July 5, 2005
05-196

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations, Dr. Anita G. Hufft Dean, VSU College of Nursing (229) 333-5959 John Millsaps, Board of Regents (404) 656-2251

VSU, University System partner with area hospitals to targetshortage of health-care professionals

Valdosta State University is playing a major role as part of a newly announced University System of Georgia effort to address Georgia's shortage of health-care professionals. USG officials announced that the new $7 million program will add more than 300 nurses and technologists to the Georgia workforce over the next two years. VSU is partnering in the project with the South Georgia Medical Center and Smith Northview Hospital in Valdosta, as well as Archbold Medical Center in Thomasville. It began June 1, 2005 with the first cohort of students.

VSU is one of seven University System institutions collaborating with 22 private health-care providers in a program administered under the auspices of USG's Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP). This program is scheduled to conclude in December 2007, but VSU hopes to continue the effort with other funding. The VSU corporate partner support is more than $246,000 and will address the nursing shortage in South Georgia through the implementation of an expedited Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for students who already hold a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing. The VSU program is expected to produce 36 graduates and the three South Georgia hospitals plan to hire 12 graduates each.

"As part of our commitment to advancing professional nursing in Georgia and the region, VSU's College of Nursing sees the new ICAPP Program for Second Degree Students as one of what we hope will be many positive changes in our academic programs," said VSU Dean of the College of Nursing Dr. Anita G. Hufft. "Our goals include sustaining high academic standards in professional nursing education, increasing access and support of our students, and positively impacting the quality of health care through active relationships with our clinical partners."

SGMC, Smith Northview and Archbold hospitals are major economic engines in the communities they serve and their officials said the new program to help reduce nursing shortages will help them provide better care and strengthen local economies.

"SGMC has benefited greatly over the years from our strong relationship with Valdosta State University's College of Nursing and we look forward to the opportunities this new ICAPP program will allow," said SGMC's Chief Executive Officer James McGahee. "As a society, our population is aging. In the near future, record numbers of individuals will be requiring hospital and nursing home care. It is exciting to be a part of a new program that will help qualified individuals become registered nurses."

Robert Bauer, Chief Executive Officer of Smith Northview Hospital said, "Smith Northview Hospital is honored to participate in this valuable and timely program to produce more RNs to address the needs of the healthcare system of our region of Georgia."

"These are exactly the kinds of public/private partnerships and collaborations that will be key to solving the health manpower shortages across the state," said Ken Beverly, President and CEO of Archbold Medical Center. "We're proud to continue to be a part of this effort, and we're excited about the positive impact this will have for the patients we serve across the region."

University System Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith said the Board of Regents has focused considerable resources in recent years on the shortage of health-care professionals.

"This marks the latest round in our on-going efforts aimed at ensuring that Georgia hospitals and clinics have the people needed to serve local communities with high-quality healthcare," said Meredith.

For more information about the VSU ICAPP effort, please contact Dr. Anita G. Hufft, of the VSU College of Nursing at (229) 333-5959.