New nurses help shortage

By Trina Trice

Nateaca Jackson had always known that she would be a nurse, ever since she was a child.

Jackson made that dream a reality when she and Alyson Miller graduated from Georgia Baptist College of Nursing in early May. Both are working as new registered nurses in critical care at Southern Regional Medical Center.

"It was something that I always wanted to do," Jackson said. "I just took the opportunity and followed my heart."

Many Georgians might be grateful for people like Jackson and Miller, as the state is still grappling with a nursing shortage.

Some hospitals are using aggressive recruiting tactics, such as enticing nursing students with scholarship money to not only complete their respective nursing programs, but also to commit to working at a particular hospital for a certain amount of time.

The quality and number of applicants to the nursing program at Clayton College & State University is improving, said Dr. Lydia McAllister, associate dean of nursing at Clayton College & State University.

However, the number of current nursing students accepting scholarships is low.

"We're getting money, but the students are reluctant because they're afraid to commit early on," McAllister said.

Southern Regional is offering student nurses $2,500 in scholarship assistance if they promise to work at the hospital for a year, said Vicki Malcom, nursing recruiter for Southern Regional.

Although Southern Regional has been "pretty fortunate" in recruiting the nurses it needs, there are some departments that still lack the amount of support it requires, such as labor and delivery, telemetry, and critical care.

Miller has worked in the labor and delivery, a specialty she'd like to have.

Being a new nurse at Southern Regional is both fulfilling, yet surreal, Miller said.

"It's a very surreal experience, especially after studying so long to be one," she said. "I love it, it has exceeded my expectations."

Jackson already knew what to expect have three aunts that are nurses. Jackson also worked as a nursing tech while she attended college.

But getting help from a "preceptor" has eased her transition and has been the highlight of Jackson's experience, so far.

Preceptors are experienced nurses selected to help new nurses adapt to their chosen field. Preceptors are trained by the hospital and work with new nurses between three and six months.

"I've been working with my preceptor and bonding with my preceptor who is showing me what to do and showing me each patient is as important as the other one," she said.