BY THRESSEA BOYD
VALDOSTA – In 2008, South Georgia Medical Center (SGMC) announced its support and pledge of a $1 million investment to Valdosta State University’s Health Sciences and Business Administration (HSBA) building.
SGMC continues to honor the pledge that was made five years ago, even before final design and construction began on the building. In October 2012, at the official groundbreaking for the HSBA building, the Hospital Authority of Valdosta and Lowndes County, Ga. presented the university with the first $200,000 installment on the pledge.
Located on the Rea and Lillian Steele North Campus, the HSBA building is home to six health sciences programs: nursing, athletic training, exercise physiology, communication sciences and disorders, social work, and health care administration.
Strategically positioned across the street from SGMC, the HSBA building will provide greater opportunities for Valdosta State students and faculty to interact with health care professionals.
“On behalf of the Hospital Authority of Valdosta & Lowndes County, Georgia, South Georgia Medical Center is pleased to have made this pledge in fulfillment of our commitment to support the higher education of future health care providers including nurses, advanced practice nurses, healthcare administrators and other healthcare professionals,” said SGMC CEO Randy Sauls.
Valdosta State and SGMC have a shared commitment to recruit and retain nurses to meet the growing demand within South Georgia, across the state and beyond.
SGMC provides a nursing scholarship for individuals pursuing a nursing (associate or bachelor) degree who have been accepted into an accredited nursing program.
According to Laura Love, director of community relations at SGMC, the scholarship may be used for up to four semesters.
“Scholarships are awarded on an application basis to those who appear to be best suited based on grades, submitted documents, financial needs, and interviews,” said Love. “In return, the scholarship recipient works for SGMC for one year for every year or part of a year the tuition was funded or will arrange for repayment.”
Keeping more health care professionals in South Georgia is important to SGMC and area health care agencies. In 2013, SGMC hired 34 nursing students from Valdosta State to help the growing regional need for health care professionals.
In a 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections (2010-2020), the registered nursing workforce will be the top U.S. occupation in terms of job growth through 2020 and is expected to grow from 2.74 million nurses in 2010 to 3.45 million in 2020.
Across the nation, the need for advanced educated nurses and health care workers is a growing concern. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state of Georgia ranks ninth with the most nursing job openings, based on 2010-2011 data.
The HSBA building provides the academic and clinical facilities to produce more health care professional for Georgia.
According to a 2012 VSU alumni survey, of the students who graduate with degrees in nursing, communication sciences and disorders, exercise physiology, athletic training, and social work, approximately 87 percent stay in Georgia and 67 percent remain in South Georgia.