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NGU partners with USC Upstate to offer nursing shortage solution

STAFF REPORTS
Published on Tuesday, February 6, 2018

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From left: Rachel Dobbins (NGU Biology Student), Susan Allen (Program Coordinator for advanced programs), Dr. Tom Allen (Dean of NGU College of Science and Mathematics), Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. (NGU President), Dr. Brendan B. Kelly (USC Upstate Chancellor), Dr. Sonya Blevins (Associate Dean of Mary Black School of Nursing at the USC Upstate Greenville Campus), Adriana Vasquez (NGU Biology Student).

North Greenville University

From left: Rachel Dobbins (NGU Biology Student), Susan Allen (Program Coordinator for advanced programs), Dr. Tom Allen (Dean of NGU College of Science and Mathematics), Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. (NGU President), Dr. Brendan B. Kelly (USC Upstate Chancellor), Dr. Sonya Blevins (Associate Dean of Mary Black School of Nursing at the USC Upstate Greenville Campus), Adriana Vasquez (NGU Biology Student).

North Greenville University’s (NGU) College of Science and Mathematics (COSAM) has trained high-quality biology students for decades. Medical school acceptance rates of the college’s biology graduates have been approximately 90 percent consistently over the past 10 years.

To build on that success, NGU announced Tuesday, a new affiliation with the Mary Black School of Nursing at University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg. The partnership will help address supply and demand projections of the nursing workforce.

Now, North Greenville University biology majors interested in a nursing career will have the opportunity to earn two bachelor’s degrees in five years. The first three years will be spent at the NGU campus and the final two years will be spent at the Mary Black School of Nursing on either the main campus in Spartanburg or the USC Upstate Greenville Campus at the University Center in Greenville. Students will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from NGU after their fourth year and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from USC Upstate after the fifth year. 

According to the school’s articulation agreement, qualified NGU students who meet all admissions criteria as described in the Mary Black School of Nursing academic catalog and identified by NGU will be invited to apply in their junior year. NGU will then provide an approved list of students annually to be entered into the Mary Black School of Nursing before Oct. 1 for an August start date and March 1 for a January start.

Identified students with completed applications who meet the standards of the dual degree program will be guaranteed acceptance. Standards include maintaining an overall 3.0 grade point average, having a 2.5 GPA in the required sciences, completing the program requirements for clinical hours, passing the pre-admission assessment test (ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills), and meeting the approval of the NGU COSAM dean.

The first group of NGU students will enter the nursing program at USC Upstate in Spring 2019.

“As the level of illness in the general population has increased over the last 20 years, as well as the number of seniors over 65, there is a need of more expertly qualified nurses to take care of them now and in the coming years,” said Dean of NGU’s College of Science and Mathematics Dr. Tom Allen.

And with Baby Boomers reaching their 60s and 70s, the need for healthcare and nurses to serve the aging population will grow at an even more alarming rate.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Center for Health Workforce Analysis for 2014-2030 reports a substantial variation in projected supply and demand across states for registered nurses (RNs) by 2030.  Seven states have estimated shortages by year 2030. States having a shortage of more than 10,000 RNs, include Texas (15,900 fewer); New Jersey (11,400 fewer); and South Carolina (10,400 fewer).

When asked why students should take advantage of this partnership, Allen said, “Students are able to experience our Christ-centered atmosphere, attentive professors, and smaller class sizes for three years before entering into a clinical environment. In addition, without losing any academic course content pertinent to their major, the successful student can obtain a dual degree while saving the cost of one academic year.”

USC Upstate opened a 146,000-square-foot Health Education Complex in 2008 on the main campus, which included the Mary Black School of Nursing. The complex has allowed the nursing school to double the number of nurses in its programs and add nursing at the graduate level. The Greenville space occupies approximately 5,000 square feet dedicated to nursing lab and simulation experiences.

A significant asset at the Mary Black School of Nursing is the simulation lab, the largest solely dedicated to nursing at any school in the state.

The lab comprises 11,000 square feet, with hospital beds, medical carts, and four medical bays. It also features state-of-the-art technology like computer-controlled human manikins that help students learn how to read vital signs and respond to strokes, heart attacks, and other real-life emergencies.

“The manikins can sweat, bleed, and even deliver a baby,” Gibb said. “You name it, my manikins can do it.”

After working with the manikins, students can review how they handled a scenario and envision what could be done differently, if anything, the next time. As a result, the simulation lab and technology help improve students’ clinical skills and, ultimately, patient care.

Nursing students also get hands-on experience through the school’s partnerships with other schools, area hospitals and doctor’s offices, and a nearby prison. All students must pass a foreign language class designed for the healthcare profession. And study abroad trips to Ecuador and South Africa help nursing students build multilingual and multicultural skills.

“What a rare opportunity and unique experience it is to obtain two degrees in five years and be ready to practice nursing with a full knowledge of the field of biology,” COSAM’s Program Coordinator for Advance Programs Susan Allen said. “For students desiring to continue in their education, this background provides a strong building foundation.”

Fast growing specialties include certified dialysis nurse, legal nurse consultant, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, nurse case manager, nurse educator, nurse practitioner, and nurse researcher, to name a few.

“Hospitals and healthcare systems prize nurses with strong bachelor degrees beyond basic RN licensure and this uniquely thorough academic preparation will help to usher highly qualified new nurses into the Upstate’s medical community. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with our friends at USC Upstate as we continue to expand North Greenville University’s programs in healthcare,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr.

Fant said the partnership with Mary Black School of Nursing is one of several hybrid programs already in place at North Greenville.  

NGU has articulation agreements with Clemson University in engineering, a chiropractic agreement with Sherman School of Chiropractic in Spartanburg, and an athletic training graduate degree arrangement with Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, VA.

Negotiations for future partnerships are in the works in pharmacy with Palm Beach Atlantic University in Palm Beach, Fla., and in veterinary science.

“USC Upstate is pleased to enter into this agreement with North Greenville University. This collaboration gives these students the opportunity to gain the skills and credentials necessary to thrive in South Carolina’s modern healthcare economy,” said USC Upstate Chancellor Brendan B. Kelly.

 

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