The Clayton State University School of Nursing recently paused in the course of educating present and future nurses in four different programs to honor an organization that has helped make those programs possible, and has made many dreams real for Clayton State nursing students.
The School of Nursing at Clayton State and Kaiser Permanente have been working together since 2000 to bring excellent nursing education to metro Atlanta. During that time, Clayton State’s nursing programs have grown from a single baccalaureate program to a BSN nursing program that graduates approximately 120 undergraduate nurses each year, an online RN – BSN program, an RN – MSN completion program, and an online master’s program with tracks in nursing education and leadership. And that’s without even mentioning the new family nurse practitioner program that will begin in the fall of 2015.
As a means of acknowledging Kaiser’s contributions to that programmatic growth, the College of Health and the School of Nursing have dedicated the Kaiser Permanente Study Area on the first floor of the Harry S. Downs Center in honor of the pioneering health plan’s “long-standing generosity” that has “created a lasting impact on our student, faculty and programs.” Accepting the dedication on behalf of Kaiser Permanente was Beverly Thomas, vice president of Communications & Public Affairs.
“This space is frequented by nursing students throughout the day as a place to study, both individually and in groups,” noted Clayton State President Dr. Thomas Hynes at the dedication ceremony. “It seems fitting that a space that students will continue to benefit from daily will now be named the Kaiser Permanente Study Area.”
As College of Health Dean Dr. Lisa Eichelberger pointed out at the Study Area dedication ceremony, the impact noted on the dedication plaque is easy to quantify, especially in terms of Clayton State’s diverse nursing program being able to recruit and retain outstanding faculty members.
“We have a total of 27 nursing faculty and graduate more nurses from underrepresented groups that any other nursing school in the state, including the historically black colleges,” she said. “Clayton State consistently has state board scores among the highest in the state. One of the reasons for that is our outstanding faculty that Kaiser has helped us retain. The average tenure of our nursing faculty is nine years.
“We are where we are today thanks in part to the ongoing generosity of Kaiser Permanente. Thank you!”
Eichelberger’s thanks were echoed by Hynes.
“It is a very special occasion when we have the opportunity to publicly say `thank you’ to such a generous partner of Clayton State University,” he said at the dedication. “Kaiser Permanente has supported the University and particularly the School of Nursing for almost 15 years. During that time, they have given more than $750,000 in support of students, faculty, and programs.
“Today we are honored to be able to talk about this meaningful partnership, but to also permanently acknowledge all that Kaiser Permanente has done for Clayton State.”
Examples of Kaiser’s generosity to Clayton State are many. To list just a few…
The Kaiser Permanente Endowed Scholarship Fund is awarded to students, like current faculty member and Clayton State alumnus Colleen Walters, who are passionate about nursing as a profession.
Kaiser has also made it possible for nursing students to stay in school and complete their degree through a student emergency fund and need-based annual scholarships.
Kaiser has supported programs such as the new faculty mentoring program which has increased faculty retention and thus strengthened the educational experience for nursing students.
In recent years, Kaiser Permanente has also been a charter member of the Clayton State Corporate Partners Program and has provided both insight and opportunities for Clayton State students across campus.
It is only fitting then that, in recognition of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to excellence, the first floor study area now bears the Kaiser Permanente name, in addition to the previous recognition by the School of Nursing; its top academic award bears the Kaiser name and is given annually to the student with the highest GPA.
A unit of the University System of Georgia where dreams are made real, Clayton State University is located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Photo Caption: (Left to right); Evonne Yancey, Kaiser Permanente director of Community Benefit and Community Affairs; Dr. Lisa Eichelberger, dean of the College of Health at Clayton State University, Beverly Thomas, Kaiser Permanente vice president of Communications & Public Affairs; Madelyn Adams, Kaiser Permanente director of Community Benefit; Dr. Thomas Hynes, Clayton State president. (Erin Fender photo)