Ga. health system partners with university to address EMT, nurse shortages
The partnership will launch a student outreach program to get high schoolers interested in medical careers
The Albany Herald, Ga.
ALBANY, Ga. — The Phoebe Putney Health System and Albany State University are launching a new innovative partnership designed to spur interest in health care careers among high school students across the region and significantly expand ASU's nursing and emergency medical technician programs to accommodate additional students.
This initiative is the latest in a series of investments Phoebe has made with regional educational partner institutions to address the critical nursing need.
"Health care organizations across the country are facing a critical work force shortage, particularly in nursing," Scott Steiner, the Phoebe Health System's president and CEO, said in a news release. "With national demand at peak levels, it's difficult for any hospital to attract medical professionals like nurses and EMTs. Therefore, we are partnering with ASU to help grow fresh talent right here in southwest Georgia."
The partnership will target teenage students across the region, delivering education and opportunity to inspire students to consider careers in health care.
"Our goal is to reach out and show these bright minds how rewarding life as a caregiver can be, right here in southwest Georgia," Steiner said. "We want to keep them here for college, prepare them for an in-demand role in health care, and give them every reason to stay and start their career in the communities they already know and love."
The need for trained health care workers is reaching critical levels in southwest Georgia, the entire state and the country, particularly in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that continues to infect tens of thousands. Albany and southwest Georgia were among the world's hot spots for the virus in the early stages of its emergence in the United States. Phoebe Putney Health System officials have noted a considerable downward trend in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, though, noting the health system had only 27 COVID patients in its facilities on Thursday, 26 at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital facilities in Albany and one patient at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus.
Phoebe also is investing in ASU's Pre-College STEM Program and the Health Sciences and STEM Academy to support 90 students per year for three years.
"There are so many incredible, intelligent and motivated young people across our region who need a chance and a path to success," ASU President Marion Fedrick said. "Our Pre-College STEM Program and Academy can provide that spark, excitement, and nurturing to help students embrace the idea of a health care career."
As part of the partnership, Phoebe also will provide funds to help pay for new nursing faculty members and stipends for ASU nursing students and tutors. Phoebe also will ensure ASU nursing students have access to clinical rotations in Phoebe facilities and hands-on training in the Phoebe Simulation and Innovation Center.
"Albany State's continued partnership with Phoebe, and our commitment to academic excellence and student success, are integral to why ASU continues to be a premiere health professions institution in the southwest region," Angela Peters, ASU's provost and vice president for academic affairs, said. "Hands-on training and outstanding classroom instruction are critical to success in a health professions career. This partnership will ensure our students receive a strong combination of both and are well-equipped for success when they enter the work force."
ASU is committing additional funding for the new nursing faculty positions, boosting student recruitment efforts and working with Phoebe to identify potential program improvements aimed at helping more students complete their education and successfully enter the work force.
"Albany State has a long history of graduating talented nurses who provide quality care," Fedrick said. "Phoebe's investment will assist in providing resources to accept an additional 60 students per year to our associate's degree nursing program."
ASU also will designate priority admission status for students who live within 50 miles of its campus, and Phoebe will provide loan forgiveness guidance, sign-on bonuses, and other incentives to new nurse graduates who accept positions at Phoebe.
The partnership also addresses the region's need for additional EMTs, with Phoebe providing scholarships for basic EMT students at ASU.
"There is a need for EMTs in our communities," Sarah Brinson, dean of the Darton College of Health Professions, said. "This is a tremendous opportunity to fill the pipeline in southwest Georgia with our own community members."
Combined with nursing and STEM programs, Phoebe's total investment over the next three years will be up to $750,000.
"It is so important for Phoebe to keep strengthening relationships with all our education partners, and we are especially excited about this new agreement with Albany State," Steiner said. "We're embracing some truly innovative ways for us to work together, not just to benefit our two organizations, but to better serve the people of southwest Georgia."
"Albany State University and Phoebe are two fundamental institutions in southwest Georgia," Fedrick added. "We share a common goal of improving life in southwest Georgia, and we look forward to the success of this partnership and beyond."
(c)2021 The Albany Herald, Ga.