by Elizabeth Stone
On Tuesday, November 12, 2013, the University of West Georgia hosted a dedication ceremony honoring the official partnership and naming of the Tanner Health System School of Nursing. The event included representatives from Tanner Health System and UWG, community members, UWG nursing alumni and current UWG nursing professors and students. Following the ceremony, a reception was provided for guests including tours of the new nursing building.
Dr. Kyle Marrero (left) and Loy Howard (right) unveil the new University of West Georgia Tanner Health System School of Nursing sign.
Dr. Kyle Marrero, president of UWG, welcomed the guests to the dedication ceremony and offered gratitude to all those who made the partnership possible. He also said that this partnership would serve to propel the university into the future.
“This partnership will transcend this glorious building where we house the School of Nursing,” Marrero says. “It will transcend the relationship that we currently have and move us forward in the west Georgia region.”
Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner Health System, explained the importance of the relationship between Tanner Health System and the university, and that the partnership of the two organizations is strengthened by the organizations’ commonalities.
“I think there are two characteristics that these two organizations have in common,” Howard says. “It’s not just that they are great places to work or that they are great facilities, but it is the pursuit of excellence. The pursuit to be great really joins us and will allow us to accomplish what we really want to do in the coming decade.”
Howard also pointed to the future, and that this partnership will help to prepare for the predicted shortage of nurses in future years. He said that this is a move by UWG and Tanner to address the shortage at the local level.
“This [partnership] will also help our clinical staff to be better,” he says. “These new learning labs are quite impressive, quite amazing, and will allow us to be able to train our nurses and help them to be even better nurses in their pursuit of great quality. This will really allow us to plan for the future.”
Daniel Jackson, chairman of the Tanner Health System Board of Directors and president/CEO of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, reiterated the importance of nurses in the future. “On behalf of Tanner, we are excited about this university endeavor,” he says. “It creates two things: first is an opportunity for more students to participate and to have a chance to study nursing, and secondly, for Tanner, it is an opportunity to hire those students as they graduate.”
The learning labs, which allow students to practice nursing on simulation mannequins and are located in the new 64,000-square-foot nursing building, are only the beginning of what the university will be able to provide to students through the partnership. According to Dr. Kathryn Grams, dean and professor of nursing at UWG, not only will the gift and partnership provide opportunities for UWG students to work with and among the members of the community and Tanner Health System, but also will expand the presence of innovation, grow student capacity and ultimately improve the overall quality of care.
“The partnership will lead to innovation, innovation in practice, education and research that will promote evidence-based person-centered care and benefit the citizens of west Georgia,” Grams says. “Specifically we hope to increase student capacity with this partnership, provide quality and quantity of learning resources and opportunities in the practice setting, offer scholarships and fund program support and equipment. UWG will have access to Tanner’s clinical nurse experts to facilitate education. Tanner will have access to UWG’s faculty with clinical academic and research expertise. There will also be an opportunity for Tanner staff to come here to our simulation center, so that we can work together. Ultimately I believe that it will improve patient outcomes, and that really is what we are here to do, is to improve the quality of care delivered to persons in this area.”
Grams added that the partnership itself is innovative, and that Tanner and UWG are the forerunners. “Partnerships of this type are being formed across the country to help advance nursing practice, improve the quality of care and enhance patient outcomes,” she says. “UWG and Tanner are now among those who are leading the way.”
The School of Nursing currently houses 475 nursing students, plus 800 pre-nursing students, totaling to approximately 10 percent of the overall UWG student body and making it the number one major on campus. UWG offers a pre-licensure BSN degree, RN-BSN education for registered nurses seeking to advance their education, master’s degree programs in health systems leadership and nursing education and an Ed.D. in nursing education.
For more information on the Tanner Health System School of Nursing at UWG, please visit nursing.westga.edu.