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Georgia Southwestern introduces new Associate of Science in Nursing degree to address nursing shortage

AMERICUS, GA (December 7, 2021) — Georgia Southwestern State University will launch a new academic degree, an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), set to begin Fall 2022. The two-year program comes in response to regional industry workforce needs and the critical nationwide nursing shortage with Georgia projected to have the sixth worst nursing shortage by the year 2030. 

Obtaining an ASN degree at GSW will allow students to complete a full educational pathway to pursue their education step-by-step and enter the workforce sooner as a registered nurse (RN). Registered nursing is the fourth-most in-demand job in the American workforce. Healthcare facilities are searching for skilled RNs as they face increased patient demand for care with the pandemic speeding this along.

“During GSW’s Academic Planning in Fall 2019, we heard repeatedly from our local and regional health care providers and partners the need for trained medical personnel to help fill the gap in this industry,” said Suzanne Smith, Ph.D., provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “These conversations, along with workforce data showing current and projected job openings within a 100-mile radius, made it clear that expanding our footprint in healthcare was a dire need that we could help fill.”

Associate degree nursing education is not new to GSW. The degree was offered from 1953 until 2000 with the degree moving from an associate’s to a bachelor’s based on the university level change to a State University with degree conferring of bachelor or higher.

GSW currently offers the traditional bachelor’s degree program (BSN), LPN-BSN, online RN-BSN, and online master’s degree, and graduates just over 100 nurses each year, yet the need to increase the nursing pipeline at the associate and bachelor degree levels continues to grow.

“Georgia’s nursing shortage is a critical and worsening problem that we must address immediately and innovatively,” stated Scott Steiner, president & CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System, the area’s largest employer. “We are proud and excited to work with Georgia Southwestern to provide opportunities for more nursing students and to do so on an expedited timeline through an associate degree program. We know nursing graduates are more likely to begin their careers in the region where they complete their education and training, and we look forward to putting many GSW nursing grads to work at Phoebe, providing outstanding care to the people of southwest Georgia.”

Sandra Daniel, Ph.D., GSW’s Dean of the College and Nursing Health Sciences states that the new ASN program “will reduce the barriers of time and expense for students needing to complete their nursing education and begin working as a registered nurse. It also provides a means for LPNs to advance their education and become RNs. We look forward to resuming this degree program once again as we continue to educate nurses in our region.”

Graduates from GSW’s ASN program will be eligible to apply to GSW’s #1 ranked RN-BSN program.

GSW’s ASN program has officially been approved by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the Georgia Board of Nursing, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges as it required an institutional level change.

Visit www.gsw.edu/ASN to learn more about the ASN degree and other GSW nursing programs.