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ASU, GHSU nurses get together to discuss merger

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With her 5-year-old son Thomas on her shoulders and her 11-year-old daughter Jessica by her side, Rebecca Parrish peered into a room at the College of Nursing at Georgia Health Sciences University Wednesday, where nursing students surrounded a “patient” whose simulated heartbeat reverberated in the room.

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Brenda Wilson (left), director of the simulation lab, holds an infant dummy in the birthing simulation room and chats with Patricia Burford (right) of Augusta.   SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Brenda Wilson (left), director of the simulation lab, holds an infant dummy in the birthing simulation room and chats with Patricia Burford (right) of Augusta.

“It’s cool,” Jessica said. It was a glimpse for Parrish of what will be her home next January when she and fellow Augusta State University nursing students, faculty and staff move to GHSU.

“It sounds like we’re going to have a lot more resources,” Parrish said.

GHSU for the first time hosted ASU faculty and students and provided tours of the facilities that will house both programs beginning in January. Even with the integration and the creation of a new curriculum, however, “we will still be teaching our curriculums,” said Dr. Lori Schumacher Anderson, associate dean for academic affairs at GHSU. “So we’re going to be teaching three curriculums at one time.”

Current ASU and GHSU nursing students will finish their respective programs and new nursing students in 2013 will enter in the new curriculum. All of them will likely be taking classes in the same building, however, said Jean Pawl, who will become interim chair of the ASU Department of Nursing next month. Adding 200 or so ASU students to an equal number of GHSU undergraduates means that part of the college in the will surpass the number in the graduate programs, GHSU Dean Lucy Marion said.

“We’ll be a balanced College of Nursing and we’ll be meeting the needs of the community,” she said. The previous goal to grow from about 600 to 800 students by 2020 has now been pushed to a goal of 1,000, Marion said.

Work teams have been addressing issues since February, such as how to address the discrepancy between admission standards for the two programs, but Marion sought to allay fears the new standards would be too high for some prospective nursing students.

“We’re really looking at access to make sure we attend to these things,” she said.

ASU nursing student Caitlin Pye, who is looking to graduate from the new university in May 2013, said that is what her focus is on now.

“At this point, we’re trying to graduate and not worry about the details” of the merger, she said.

Wednesday’s event was just the first for ASU students to help them get familiar with what will be their new home, Marion said.

“We’re going to continue to offer opportunities for them to see what it’s like to be here before they get here,” she said.


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