ALPHARETTA, Ga. – A May 31 articulation agreement between Gwinnett Technical College and Georgia State University has made it easier for nursing students to turn a two-year GTC nursing certificate almost seamlessly into a four-year GSU degree.
An articulation agreement is an official pact between the two schools allowing students to apply credits earned in specific programs at one institution toward advanced standing, entry or transfer into a specific program at the other institution.
This agreement eases the transition from one institution to another by minimizing duplication of coursework. Because the agreement is between the institutions, it does not require students to make individual arrangements. Coursework transfers automatically.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates that the nation will need at least 2.5 million nurses by the year 2020. And Georgia has a deficit of trained nurses as it is.
It all happened at the Greater North Fulton’s monthly breakfast held at the King’s Ridge School cafeteria in Alpharetta. There, Georgia State University President Mark Becker and Gwinnett Technical College President D. Glen Cannon historical signed the agreement spelling out how Gwinnett Tech’s two-year RN students can smoothly transfer their credits toward a Georgia State four-year nursing diploma.
The Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce’s little-known Talent Coalition Committee had its fingerprints all over the agreement.
GSU’s Becker has a problem, albeit a good one. He has 50,000 students enrolled in his Atlanta campus and at Perimeter (where 17,000 students toil). They go to school morning, noon and night.
That balancing act has earned GSU the ranking as the No. 4 Most Innovative College in the country. GSU tracks every student monitored using 800 variables of behavior for each.
“If one of our students so much as hiccups, we want to know why,” Becker said. “Every freshman is tested so that we can tell them how likely they are to be successful in the field they’ve chosen,” he said.
The partnership was initiated by GSU in an effort to make students more successful. One particular area of focus has been in the field of nursing. The National Institute of Medicine is calling for 80 percent of nurses have a four-year Bachelor of Science Nursing degree by 2020.
Georgia needs more degreed nurses than GSU is currently able to produce.
The chamber’s Talent Coordination Committee warmed to the task to meet that particular need in Georgia. The entire medical field is a growth industry in the Northern Arc of Cobb, North Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
GNFCC Economic and Talent Vice President Bethany Usry uses member-led volunteers on her Talent Coalition Committee to find ways for the business community and the community at large to solve the shortfall in labor. The chamber committee finds ways to get talented employees in jobs that benefit local companies and businesses.
Usry saw that taking Gwinnett Tech’s successful two-year nursing program and tweaking it so that it dovetails with the GSU four-year program would help Georgia reach that plateau of 80 percent of nurses possessing four-year degrees.
“We are focused on workforce development specifically for health care and technology companies. And that is simply because those two categories of employers are the top employers in North Fulton,” Usry said. “And when we talk to our city economic development professionals, we know they are all recruiting into those two categories. So it makes sense to narrow our focus and start there.”
A subset of that talent committee is a healthcare work group chaired by Gwinnett Tech Dean of Nursing Sciences Indira Tyler.
“With this agreement, we are breaking down barriers to those students getting a four-year [nursing] degree,” Tyler said.
The two schools are aligning the curricula so that the nursing coursework is a seamless transition and all courses transfer for credit in the pursuit of the BSN.
GSU’s Becker said it’s all about creating opportunity for students to succeed and the chamber is helping the process by steering graduates to waiting jobs in North Fulton.