To pursue her dream of becoming an ultrasound technician, Megan Collins said she is considering the University of North Georgia (UNG), "Because the health science programs here have such a good reputation."
Collins and some 50 of her schoolmates from Chestatee High School in Hall County toured the Health and Natural Sciences Building on UNG's Dahlonega Campus to learn more about the health science programs offered by the university, like degrees in nursing and physical therapy.
"Having high school students, who are already looking ahead to careers in health care, at our university to tour our health science facilities is a wonderful opportunity, for them and for us," said Dr. Kim Hudson-Gallogly, head of UNG's Department of Nursing. "The students get to see what their environment will be like during college as they pursue degrees in nursing or physical therapy, and they see how we can further their skills and future opportunities. We get the chance to show them what unique strengths UNG possesses that they won't find at other universities."
The students visited the nursing skills lab, the cadaver lab, physical therapy training rooms, and the nursing simulation lab, which houses mannequins capable of realistically simulating a number of illnesses and injuries.
"It's great to see such a variety of equipment and learning tools, especially at a university so close to home," said Chestatee senior Jessie Clark, who wants to be a hospice nurse.
Students' questions ranged from how credits from other institutions transfer to UNG, to how UNG graduates fare on the national exam nursing students must pass before becoming registered nurses. According to Gallogly, UNG nursing students generally maintain a passage rate of more than 90 percent on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
Gallogly stressed to the students their need to master science and math subjects, as they play heavily into nursing and other medical education paths. The students, who all are currently taking a health care science course, also learned about what it takes to enter and succeed in UNG's health care education programs.
The tour also addressed an important component of Complete College Georgia, a statewide initiative announced by Gov. Nathan Deal after a 2011 study found that Georgia will need to increase the percentage of its population with some level of college completion to 60 percent to meet projected workforce needs. Each of the state's public colleges and universities has developed individual plans to support the initiative, which include coordination with the state's technical colleges and other community organizations.
"Opportunities like this, which bring young students into our university so they can better visualize their educational and professional careers, are very important for meeting the objectives of Complete College Georgia," said Sheila Caldwell, UNG's director for Complete College Georgia. "Equipping them with the knowledge and resources to plan ahead in meeting their professional goals is one of the most critical steps in building a more educated workforce in Georgia."