Dr. Lisa Eichelberger, dean of the College of Health at Clayton State University, addressed the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) on Tuesday, June 8, highlighting what the Clayton State School of Nursing has been doing to help address the issues facing nursing in the State of Georgia.
Eichelberger was speaking to the Regents at the request of the Board staff, which had previously decided to have one person from the nursing field and one person from the teacher education field address the Regents at the June meeting to highlight what their universities were doing and how to meet the critical shortage of nurses and teachers… two professions the Regents have targeted for special initiative funding.
Speaking first on outlining the problems related to nursing in Georgia and the USG’s response, Eichelberger noted that, “Georgia is facing a serious nursing shortage that is predicted to reach more than 40,000 by 2020. Even in this recession, health care has been the only industry sector that has added jobs. The demand for nursing far exceeds the supply even in these economic times.
“Two barriers to increasing the supply are faculty shortage and lack of clinical space for student experiences.”
Eichelberger also noted that the USG’s response to this crisis has been through ICAPP Health Professions Initiatives, and through targeted funding from the BOR for capacity building. Individual institutions have also increased funding to nursing departments.
“The outcome has been that, over the past four years, we have increased production by 32 percent, which is good, but still far behind what is needed,” she said.
In terms of Clayton State’s efforts to increase capacity, Eichelberger touched briefly on four items: how Clayton State has leveraged Board of Regents and ICAPP funding to increase capacity; how Clayton State has contributed to the education of Georgia’s minority and disadvantaged student population; this fall, Clayton State will be the first nursing program in Georgia to offer totally online education for nurse educators and leaders; and about a planned partnership with Columbus State University to offer the first collaborative nursing masters program in Georgia.
Since 2002, Clayton State’s School of Nursing has received two rounds of funding from Georgia’s ICAPP Health Professions Initiative program. This ICAPP seed money and the expansion Clayton State’s simulation laboratory, has allowed the School of Nursing to double its annual enrollment each year.
With the nursing program’s graduation rate of greater than 90 percent, and a 2008/09 state board pass rate of 95 percent, Clayton State’s ICAPP funding is responsible for approximately 60 new registered nurses working in Georgia each year.
With more than 85 percent of Clayton State nurses staying in Georgia to practice and starting salaries at or around $50,000, the economic impact of the ICAPP funding provided to CSU has been tremendous.
More than 10 years ago, the School of Nursing implemented a structured program to target the recruitment and graduation of 80 percent minority nurses, going from an enrollment of 45 percent minority students to a 75 percent minority enrollment making Clayton State the largest producer of minority nurses in Georgia, including the Historically Black Colleges.
ONLINE MASTERS PROGRAM
With the Regents’ approval, Clayton State will begin offering its accredited masters degree program totally on line, making it the first such program in Georgia. The online format provides opportunities for many working RN’s who are unable to come to a physical location for traditional educational offerings. CSU online program targets nursing education and nursing leadership, two of the most critical shortage areas in nursing.
The online masters degree is part of a new 2010–2012 ICAPP project enabling 12 RN’s from across the state to enroll in a masters of nursing education program while receiving tuition support and employment as junior faculty in Georgia nursing programs. At the end of the new two year project, Georgia will have 12 new faculty who have made a commitment to teach for a minimum of two years in Georgia nursing programs
COLLABORATIVE MASTERS PROGRAM
Columbus State is adopting Clayton State’s masters program curriculum and seeking approval to begin offering a masters degree in collaboration with Clayton State’s already established master program. This is also a first for Georgia and is modeled after the very successful Georgia On My Line collaborative Masters of Arts in Teaching and Masters in Education.
Dr. Marci M. Middleton, assistant vice chancellor, Academic Programs, called Eichelberger’s address, “a laudatory presentation of local, state, and national trends.”
“We were very appreciative to have you join us. Thank you for your support,” she added.