Pressing need for nurses spurs 3rd nursing cohort at Georgia College

Pressing need for nurses spurs 3rd nursing cohort at Georgia College

T hrough the receipt of additional state funding, Georgia College’s School of Nursing (SON) has added a third cohort to their Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

There are only 1,329 nurses per 100,000 residents in Georgia, according to the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce (GBHCW) Nursing Workforce Data dashboard. 

“It is estimated that an additional 175,900 registered nurses (RNs) will exit the workforce each year for personal reasons or through retirement, and the field is expected to grow by 7%,” said Josie Doss, interim director and associate professor of the SON. “Though Georgia has around 100,000 RNs, we still have one of the lowest densities in the nation. We’re preparing nurses to fill that need.”

The inaugural cohort was admitted this summer and included 40 students. These students will attend classes for four continuous semesters, allowing them to graduate in just 15 months. Traditional nursing students typically do not take courses during the summer and graduate in two years.

Rachel Najjar (center) is a part of the new summer cohort.
Rachel Najjar (center) is a part of the new summer cohort.

Though they are increasing the number of nurses trained at Georgia College, the SON isn’t sacrificing quality to meet Georgia healthcare needs.

“We’re giving the students the tools they need in their undergraduate years so they’re prepared for the workforce,” said Morgan Fordham, lecturer of nursing. 

“I’m teaching them high-pressure situation skills and stress management techniques to help them after they graduate, because it’s not enough to have warm bodies in healthcare,” she said. “A good quality nurse is going to save a life.”
I’m teaching them high-pressure situation skills and stress management techniques to help them after they graduate. A good quality nurse is going to save a life.
– Morgan Fordham


Summer classes are Monday through Thursday in the new cohort, with clinicals Mondays and Wednesdays. Students have lecture courses Tuesdays and Thursdays.
 
Following their summer semester, students in the cohort will have a schedule typical of fall and spring cohorts. The following summer, the students will graduate ahead of their peers because of their rigorous summer semesters.

“Seeing how impactful and important nurses are means a lot, so I am excited to fill those gaps,” said junior nursing major Kerry Kidwell. “When it gets challenging or I’m tired, it’s nice to have everyone in the cohort that I can relate to.”

Nurse burnout is a major factor in the shortage. So, the faculty teaching foundation courses—Fordham; Joyce Norris-Taylor, assistant professor of nursing; and Tormechi Chambliss, lecturer of nursing—are focusing on stress and time management in addition to technical skills.

“I already see how awesome and dedicated our professors are to teaching and helping us learn and understand these concepts, so we’ll be better prepared when we go into the workforce,” said junior nursing major Rebecca Fausett. “Because there is such a shortage, we’re going to be able to step up and help nurses and help patients.”

“I feel called to nursing, I’m excited about it and I’ll make personal connections with patients and everyone I work with,” Fausett said.

Their professors say this cohort has a theme: hardworking and enthusiastic.
Students in the 3rd cohort practice nursing techniques.
Students in the 3rd cohort practice nursing techniques.

“The cohort is fast-paced and one of the hardest things I’ve had to do so far,” said junior nursing major Rachel Najjar. “They care about us learning, not making mistakes in the future and really preparing us for whatever can happen in the nursing world and real life.”

“They’re there for us: emotionally and physically,” she said. “They keep us accountable for everything.”