AMERICUS, Ga. (WALB) – Nearly $900,000 is coming to Southwest Georgia to help address the nursing shortage.
The money will be used to improve Georgia Southwestern State University’s (GSW) nursing program.
Dr. Teresa Teasley is the Associate Dean of the GSW School of Nursing and is also a professor.
She said they were in “crisis mode” because the state is in desperate need of nurses right now.
“Healthcare employers in Southwest Georgia reported 780 job vacancies in late 2019 and early 2020,” Dr. Teasley explained. “Over 60% of these vacancies were for registered nurses.
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She said the $866,723 GSW is receiving from the Governors Education Emergency Relief Fund (GEER II) will at least help.
Gov. Brian Kemp allocated the money from federal COVID-19 relief funds, approved in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplementary Appropriations Act of 2021.
Staff said the money raised by GSW would be used to pay for renovations to the school’s existing biology lab.
“The biology lab renovation will provide additional spaces for additional students in these labs, as well as updated, more modernization with equipment and supplies,” Teasley said.
It will also fund a dedicated biology staff member to help pre-nursing students, and it will pay for upgrades to the lab where they practice and learn simulation nursing skills.
Jessica Ouzts is the GSW School of Nursing Simulation Training Coordinator.
“The (current) models don’t show any sort of realistic experience,” Ouzts said. “Students really need to get into the imagination.”
Ouzts said the new simulators will give students a better idea of what they will be doing in the real world.
“They have the ability to take vital signs on these simulators, listen to chest, heart sounds, listen to lung sounds, listen to abdomen,” she explained.
Overall, they said the money will help them both expand and improve their nursing program, so they can train more nurses who are prepared to help us all when we need medical attention.
“This funding has really opened up a world of capabilities to use with our students,” Ouzts said.
Two other Georgia universities receive GEER II money to help with health care education: Fort Valley State University and Middle Georgia State University.
The Phoebe Putney Health System and Magnolia Manor also contribute financially to these projects at GSW.
Magnolia Manor agrees to donate $75,000 to GSW each year for three years.
President and CEO Mark Todd said more than 45 GSW graduates are currently working for Magnolia Manor.
Todd said it was important to educate and keep healthcare workers in the Americas region.
“You attract more students from the area and therefore you have the option for them to stay in the area once they get out of school,” he explained.
To learn more about where GEER II funding is going in the State of Georgia, Click here.
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