VALDOSTA – The Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce has awarded Valdosta State University a $446,000 Nursing School Grant to help ensure all Georgians, especially those in rural and underserved areas, have access to high quality healthcare.
The Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce funding allows VSU’s School of Nursing to train and graduate more practice-ready registered nurses and expand its on-campus STEP (Simulated Training Encounters with Patients) Center by purchasing new, state-of-the-art, high-fidelity manikins. These sophisticated, life-like human patient simulators mimic human anatomy and physiology and realistic patient environments.
“Simulation allows students throughout the undergraduate nursing program to learn and practice skills in a judgment-free learning environment,” says Dr. James C. Pace, dean of VSU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “State-of-the-art simulations are essential for the clinical preparation of practice-ready nurses upon graduation.”
“Current budget restrictions prohibit the replacement of manikins that are currently in states of decline,” he continued. “The continued use of the STEP Center depends upon fully functioning patient simulators.”
The Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce funding supports VSU’s ongoing efforts to attract, recruit, admit, retain, and graduate baccalaureate nursing students at full capacity. It also creates opportunities for VSU to move qualified School of Nursing applicants from the waiting list to the classroom.
According to the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, Georgia is expected to have a 21 percent shortage of registered nurses by 2035, the second highest estimated shortage in the nation. The growing need for nurses in the Peach State is due, at least in part, to an aging general population in need of expanded healthcare services and an aging nursing workforce that will soon retire.
As of 2022, approximately 43 percent of the state’s total nursing workforce is over age 50.
“Valdosta State University is proud to be on the frontlines of addressing the critical nursing shortage in Georgia, particularly in rural South Georgia,” says Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of VSU. “This grant award underscores the state’s recognition of the importance of the VSU School of Nursing in preparing practice-ready nurses and is a true testimony to our dedicated nursing faculty. I extend sincere thanks to Governor Brian Kemp, the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce, and our Lowndes County state legislative delegation for their confidence in Valdosta State.”
Valdosta State was authorized by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to offer a nursing program in 1967, effective Fall 1968. Development of the program was facilitated by a request from Pineview General Hospital, which later became South Georgia Medical Center, for help preparing registered nurses for the region.
VSU’s School of Nursing, part of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program; an accelerated BSN program for degree-holding students who want to earn a second degree in nursing; a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, which allows students to pursue careers as either a family nurse practitioner or family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner; and a Doctor of Nursing Practice, which prepares nurse leaders at the highest level of nursing practice to improve patient outcomes and translate research into practice.
“Valdosta State University’s School of Nursing has a well-established track record of graduating nurses who are uniquely prepared for the workforce,” Pace says. “Our graduates are highly sought after, especially across the 41-county rural South Georgia area our university serves. They embody the nursing core values of human dignity, integrity, autonomy, altruism, and social justice.
“Georgians deserve caring, professional nurses, and our nursing graduates have what it takes to become pioneers in patient care, make a positive impact in the healthcare field, and change lives.”