ABAC awarded $434,000 nursing grant

May 8—TIFTON — Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College has been awarded a $434,000 nursing grant from the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce, according to the Office of Sponsored Programs.

ABAC is one of 16 schools awarded grants from the GBHCW. The end goal of these grants is to help combat the nursing and health care shortage by increasing the number of nurses graduating from qualified institutions.

According to Scott Pierce, director of the Office of Sponsored Programs at ABAC, the funds will be used to support pre-nursing instruction in anatomy and physiology classes, as well as microbiology classes.

"One of the great benefits of this project, even beginning with the proposal-writing process, was a renewed collaboration between our two faculties of Biology and Nursing," Pierce said. "That was really great to see. That collaboration has continued since then. This project will strengthen that collaboration even more."

ABAC President Tracy Brundage said the benefits of the grant mirror the college's overall mission.

"With everything we do and in every way we can, our main focus is always preparing our students to succeed in their chosen field," she said. "This grant will help provide the tools to do that in a direct way. Our team worked together to make this happen, and I'm excited to see the benefits for two of our fantastic schools."

The funds will be used to purchase modern basic lab equipment and instructional aids for nursing labs. Pierce said the equipment will aid learning in the classroom and familiarize students with equipment used in standard hospital lab settings.

"We believe that if we provide A&P and microbiology students better models, instructional aids, and more modern basic laboratory equipment, they will be much more likely to succeed," he said.

"We are very excited about this generous grant from the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce," Matthew Anderson, dean of ABAC's School of Arts and Sciences, said in a news release. "These funds will be well-used to help further enrich the educational experience our nursing students have in their Anatomy and Physiology and Microbiology coursework.

"We hope to enhance our students' preparation in these fundamental areas and to be able to send even more of our excellent ABAC nursing students into the work place to serve the region."

"Dr. Anderson and I are humbled to receive this grant," Jeffrey Ross, dean of ABAC's School of Nursing, said. "This grant will allow the purchase of important science equipment to increase the knowledge bases of pre-nursing students in Tifton and at ABAC-Bainbridge. Receiving this grant allows the School of Arts and Sciences faculty to have a profound influence on improving the quality of instruction in pre-nursing students.

"By receiving better prepared students, the School of Nursing and Health Sciences faculty will be further supported in producing safe, competent nursing graduates to meet the health care needs locally, nationally, and even globally. Dr. Anderson and I are exploring additional grant opportunities to ensure the continued growth of our collegial, interdepartmental collaboration."

The grant will allow for the purchase of anatomical models for A&P labs and micropipette equipment, a microtome, and fluorescence microscope for microbiology classes, which will directly impact some of the nursing students' major need areas.

"These pieces of equipment would be standard issue in a hospital lab setting," Ross said. "With this increase in foundational exposure, the students should have a more solid base on which to build success in the program. We expect increased retention rates, graduation rates, and improved NCLEX-RN licensing scores."

Some of the funds also will allow for supplemental instruction for A&P lab sections. Anderson said they have found that nursing students struggle more with these classes than other majors due to the intense study sequence for nursing majors.

"They normally take these courses as first- and second-year students, having very little or no previous experience in chemistry or biology," he said. "Pre-professional biology majors, on the other hand, have taken several science courses by the time they encounter these topics as juniors or seniors. If nursing majors do not succeed in these courses, they will not perform well in the rest of their studies and will not pass the NCLEX exam."

"Over the next few cohorts, we expect these will dramatically improve performance in both biology and nursing courses. In turn, we expect follow-through nursing licensure testing results to improve, thereby increasing our net throughput of new nurses available for employment."

The grant went into effect on April 1.

For more information about the Nursing Workforce Development grant, contact Pierce at scott.pierce@abac.edu; Ross, at jeffrey.ross@abac.edu, or Anderson, at matthew.anderson@abac.edu.