Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

College Hopes for New BSN Program; Proponents Say a Four-Year Program Will Curb Shortage in Nurses

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

College Hopes for New BSN Program; Proponents Say a Four-Year Program Will Curb Shortage in Nurses

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - By day's end Southeast Georgia could have a new education path for nurses.

The Georgia Board of Nurses is considering during meetings Thursday and today granting a request for a four-year, baccalaureate nursing program at the College of Coastal Georgia. The first 20 or so students for the new bachelor's degree in nursing could begin classes in January.

"The expanded skills set, combined with the expanded numbers, will go a long way to help our communities address their nursing shortages," said college President Valerie Hepburn.

The school expects to eventually build its nursing enrollment from 200 today to 300. Unlike most colleges that start a four-year nursing program, CCGa is keeping its two-year, associate-degree program for registered nurses.

The added capacity is critical because many experts say Georgia has a shortage of nurses. A report released today by the University System of Georgia's Center for Health Workforce Planning and Analysis shows the state ranked 46th by one measure of its ratio of nurses to the general population.

"Our data suggest it's a statewide problem, and we're already in a shortage," said Ben Robinson, director of the center.

It's not for a lack of people interested in becoming nurses. Last year, there were 50,000 college applicants nationally who passed the entrance exam but were denied admission.

The solution isn't obvious or simple, according to Dee Keeton, president of the Georgia Board of Nursing, the state agency that licenses nurses.

"People think the answer is to have more schools, but the challenge is clinical sites," she said.

Under political pressure and a new state law, the board began for the first time this year authorizing for-profit nursing schools. With 48 schools already approved and nine seeking approval, finding places in hospitals for the students to practice clinical skills first-hand is getting increasingly difficult.

Educators at public schools feared that the for-profit schools would simply boost their tuition enough to pay hospitals to accept their students for clinical rotations. …

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