The first cohort of nursing students at the Athens Technical College’s Walton Campus is set to begin classes on August 23.
Beth Heath, a previous nursing instructor at the Athens campus, will serve as Walton’s nursing program clinical coordinator and instructor. She graduated from the ATC nursing program in 1999 and has a background in hospital nursing and community health.
“I feel grateful to be here, and my dream was actually to come back and teach at Athens Tech,” said Heath, who has been an instructor at the College since 2018. “To see the moment that they really get it – so many instructors say that ‘aha moment’ when they understand it. I always loved being a nurse, and bringing that love to students is something I’ve enjoyed as well. The thing I’ve enjoyed is teaching the role of the nurse as a patient advocate, and I think that’s something we really do well at Athens Tech.”
Teaching alongside Heath will be Ruth Durham, who has also taught at the Athens campus, and Michele Jackson, an experienced nurse educator, who has just joined the Walton faculty. A fourth instructor will be hired next year with the additional cohort.
“This is an exciting time for our nursing program and the Walton Campus,” said Dr. Andrea Daniel, president of ATC. “It’s also critical to help alleviate the nursing shortage here that the pandemic has exacerbated.”
The team will have the latest technology in brand new classroom and simulation labs. This will allow the faculty to use interactive teaching techniques to mirror and enhance what is currently being taught on the main campus.
“Simulation is such a great innovative way to teach students — the mannequins that we use are so realistic. We use them to teach now and students really enjoy learning with them. We really couldn’t ask for anything more [technology wise],” explained Heath.
Funding for the program came in part from a partnership with Piedmont Healthcare, which hopes to hire qualified graduates from the program in the region.
“We are very excited to partner with Athens Technical College to train the next generation of bedside nurses and clinical support staff,” said Piedmont Walton CEO, Larry Ebert. “Students in the east metro area now have easier access to one of the finest nursing programs in the state. Athens Tech has invested in the latest technology and equipment as well as hired experienced instructors for the Walton campus, making Monroe a destination for many wanting to start a career in healthcare, and, of course, we hope that many of those students will choose to join Piedmont when they graduate.”
Heath believes the location will improve access to professional training for students in the area and save them time and money in their commute.
“We comment on the number of students that drive from a distance, especially out in this direction,” she said. “It’s great that students won’t have to drive so far, and we’ll bring a great program to more students. With the nursing shortage, any time we can provide qualified applicants the opportunity to enroll in a really great program that’s a plus. I think geographically it’s a boon for students – we know there are students in this area that want to come to this program and there are more students than we can take at the Athens campus.”
For more information on admissions requirements to apply for the associate of science in nursing program, see www.tiny.cc/ATCnursing. Prospective students can also reach out to Heath at email@example.com or nursing Program Chair Lori Callahan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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