FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUSTA, GA. – July 26, 2007 -- University Health Care System and Augusta State University announced today a partnership that is designed to increase the number of pre-licensure nursing graduates 50 percent by the year 2010.
University Health Care has agreed to fund two Assistant Professor of Nursing faculty positions for $336,000 over two years, which will increase the number of students eligible to graduate from 50 to 100 each year, according to Charlotte Price, Chair of the ASU Department of Nursing.
“The proposal is closely linked to Augusta State University’s mission and is an affirmation that the university is responsive to the needs of the community and measures its successes by the successes of its students,” Dr. Price said.
Likewise, this partnership complements University Health Care System’s mission, said Marilyn Bowcutt, Vice President for Patient Care Services at University.
“This investment in the education of Augusta State University nursing students embodies our mission of providing health care services which help the citizens of our communities achieve and maintain optimal health,” Mrs. Bowcutt said. “We believe this partnership will greatly benefit patients and the nursing workforce in our community.”
The need to increase the number of well educated nurses entering the profession is widely documented. The Georgia Department of Labor predicts at least a 37 percent increase in demand for health care professionals in Georgia by the year 2010. The aging baby boomers comprise a significant proportion of the nurse workforce and their potential massive exit from the profession is already exerting additional pressure on the Augusta area health systems to fill vacated positions while also recruiting for new positions.
“The complexity of today’s health care systems increasingly demands the skills of well prepared registered nurses,” Mrs. Bowcutt said “One of the benchmarks of excellence in the health care industry is the achievement of magnet status and an important criterion for achieving magnet status is evidence of a well-qualified nursing staff.”
University Hospital is currently the only magnet hospital in Augusta, but as more health care organizations in the CSRA strive toward obtaining magnet status, the need for skilled nurses increases significantly, Dr. Price said.
Dr. Price said that nursing is among the most popular majors at ASU, and in the spring of 2007, 501 enrolled students declared nursing as their major.
“There is great student interest in the nursing major at Augusta State” she said. “The education that students receive in our program is excellent as evidenced by their performance on state board examinations. While the state requires a pass rate for first time test takers of 80 percent, the pass rate for ASU nursing majors is consistently over 90 percent.”
Dr. Price also added that about 80 percent of the nursing graduates from Augusta State remain in the CSRA to practice nursing. She estimates that over 1,200 nurses have earned their degrees at ASU.