WellStar Health System has donated $983,972 to Georgia Highlands College to be disbursed over two years for its nursing programs, specifically to help prepare students for the college’s new Bachelor of Science in nursing and to support onsite programs for WellStar team members.
The gift is the largest single contribution the institution has ever received. GHC has been in partnership with WellStar since 2006 when an additional cohort of nursing students was added to the Marietta campus of GHC. Rome has long been the home of the nursing program at Highlands. The addition of a Marietta cohort has allowed GHC to graduate an additional 140 nursing students since that time, many of which have joined Wellstar as team members.
The new agreement includes expanding GHC’s bridge program to Cobb County for licensed practical nurses who want to become registered nurses with an associate’s degree, and specifically on-site educational opportunities for WellStar’s LPNs to advance their degree in nursing. The LPN to RN program is currently available at GHC to students in Cobb, Douglas and Paulding counties. A portion of the WellStar grant will be used to equip microbiology, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology labs on the Douglasville campus, and to hire one part-time and three full-time faculty positions. WellStar and GHC continue to collaboratively identify clinical placements that support the educational programs and meet the needs of WellStar employees who are students of these programs.
Randy Pierce, Georgia Highlands College president, described the partnership as mutually satisfying. “We have always been proud of the quality of our nursing program. With WellStar’s help, we can now expand and maintain the excellence we have been known for in Rome. Additionally, we can begin to implement our plans for an R.N. to B.S.N. degree, the first baccalaureate degree we will offer with our designation as a state college. We have enjoyed a strong relationship with WellStar since 2006, and we look forward to building even stronger bonds as we move forward.”
WellStar currently provides office space and instructional and training facilities for GHC’s nursing faculty and students at the WellStar Development Center across from WellStar Windy Hill Hospital in Atlanta.
“From a staffing perspective, having relationships with local colleges and universities is very beneficial as it allows WellStar to offer onsite career development for our nursing team members,” said David Anderson, WellStar’s executive vice president, human resources, organizational learning and chief compliance officer.
“Nursing is a profession that is always evolving,” said Mary Lou Wesley, R.N., MSN, WellStar’s senior vice president and chief nurse executive, “and having onsite access to continual learning opportunities so that our nurses can learn and grow within the profession is critical to WellStar Health System hiring and retaining nurses in a very competitive market.”
WellStar also recently partnered with Paulding County Schools, funding concussion testing for about 1,000 student athletes at North Paulding and Hiram high schools prior to the start of the 2011-2012 athletic season. This was the second time this summer that WellStar announced a partnership with an area school district to provide concussion testing—in May, the health system partnered with Cobb County Schools and its nearly 10,000 high school student athletes.
CNS Vital Signs is the computerized concussion evaluation program that the Paulding County School District has selected to use. The 20-minute test will be administered by an athletic trainer at each school. The program measures multiple aspects of the athlete's cognitive functioning, including attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time and reaction time.