This semester marks the beginning of the Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) program on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Gainesville Campus and the debut of a new classroom and simulation lab, each with cutting-edge learning technology.
"It's exciting that this program will help us better meet the healthcare needs of Hall County and its surrounding communities," said Dr. Kim Hudson-Gallogly, head of UNG's Department of Nursing. "We can also attract students from the north Atlanta and Athens areas to be part of our program. Initially, we will accept 60 students a year on this campus. Our inaugural class is a very excited and diverse group with high GPAs and impressive academic records. We know they will make very successful healthcare professionals."
Also new to the Gainesville Campus is the Technology-Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) classroom. TEAL is a teaching methodology that merges lectures, simulations, case studies, and problem-based learning activities to create a rich collaborative learning experience.
"Students bring a wealth of experiential learning to the classroom, and with the use of TEAL, the student and the teacher stimulate decision-making and problem-solving through their own individual perspective augmented by evidenced-based driven data," Gallogly said. "Our TEAL classroom is spectacular and will be a great asset in helping us produce critical thinkers and problem solvers."
A new cohort of nursing students will begin in spring every year on the Gainesville Campus, with dedicated faculty on campus at all times and a staff position to help with student questions. The first BSN class will graduate in fall 2017.
Two students looking to be in that first graduating class are juniors Jennifer Mueller and Iudita Rad, both of whom said they are very excited to part of the inaugural cohort on the Gainesville Campus.
"I've been waiting a long time for this," said Mueller, a 46-year-old Cumming resident. "I was accepted in 2008 after being on the wait list, but I wasn't able to leave my job at that time. I'm very impressed with the new space and equipment, and our faculty are experience and very helpful."
Rad — a 31-year-old resident of Buford — agreed, saying the TEAL classroom in particular has been great.
"I applied to many schools and was also accepted to Piedmont College, but I chose UNG because of the nursing program's excellent reputation," Rad said. "I know the program will take a lot of dedication, but being in a smaller cohort where we can really get to know each other and our professors is wonderful. And our professors are very good."
Nina Arenas-Montoya, lecturer of nursing, is one of those faculty members getting the students ready for their prospective careers. She is also a graduate of UNG, having earned her Master of Science in nursing education in May 2015.
"The diversity of students in this cohort is exciting, and they are very enthusiastic and flexible," Montoya said. "I absolutely love the TEAL classroom; as a new nurse educator I feel this is the future of teaching."
To further support experiential learning, the Gainesville Campus also gained a simulation lab sporting equipment and settings nearly identical to the inner workings of a hospital. Soon, there will also be mannequins in the lab that can simulate a wide range of injuries and illnesses for students to practice their skills on.
The University System of Georgia Board of Regents will soon initiate a study to assess predictions and future need for nurses in Georgia, which Gallogly said may guide them in planning for future growth.