The rise of COVID-19 has resulted in new demand for healthcare workers at all levels, with the American Nurses Association forecasting a need for 1.1 million new registered nurses by 2022 to avoid a shortage in the field.
Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) uses its 60 years of experience to help meet the needs of the workforce in the Northwestern Georgia region. According to fall 2020 enrollment data, healthcare students make up 25% of GNTC’s student body.
GNTC President Heidi Popham said the college’s mission is to provide industry partners with highly skilled professionals and develop programs to meet the workforce needs of the community.
As President, Popham meets with business and industrial partners in GNTC’s nine-county service area to better understand their workforce needs. If a new area of need is identified, the college performs a needs assessment. This workforce needs assessment may result in a new college program or a short-term, non-credit training program.
When developing new programs, Georgia Northwestern examines a combination of industry and public data to assess whether a new program will continue to meet the needs of the people of Northwestern Georgia.
This procedure has been in place since the 1960s, when GNTC existed as the Coosa Valley Technical and Vocational School and Walker County Technical and Vocational School. The two schools eventually became Coosa Valley Technical College (CVTC) and Northwestern Technical College (NTC). In 2009, the two colleges merged to become Georgia Northwestern Technical College.
Pioneers in health education
What began as two separate vocational schools offering a handful of programs in Floyd and Walker Counties has grown into a regional college with six campuses and over 200 degree programs, including 39 different health majors.
The medical assistance was organized by Jane Rice, a retired medical assistance instructor, in 1968. The program officially accepted new students in 1969, according to the college directory. The yearbook called 1969 an “important year,” citing the start of the new program, the graduation of the 25th and 26th classes of practical nurses, and the practical experience that students of both programs received in practice. medical and local hospitals.
“I have loved every minute of working with the Medical Assistance Program for almost 30 years,” Rice said. “Many graduates of the program have used the program as a basis for further education and to become registered nurses, nurse practitioners and office managers. “
According to Rice, the medical assistance program became the first program in Georgia to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Health Education Programs in 1972.
Denise Grant, retired executive director of nursing at GNTC, has helped establish several health care programs at Northwestern Technical College. When she started working at the college in 1993, Grant was working with the long-established practical nursing program. Grant expanded the program by adding evening classes and also helped establish 15 new programs for the college.
“One of the biggest challenges of starting a new program is getting it accredited,” Grant said. “Each program must meet the specific requirements of the appropriate accrediting agency, otherwise students will not be employed upon graduation.”
“The college worked in an evolving and growing health field and the needs of the field were different from what they are now. We had a very capable team of faculty and staff who got the job done, ”said Jeff King, former GNTC marshal and current evening coordinator at GNTC’s Catoosa County campus.
During Grant’s tenure at GNTC, she worked with Frank Pharr, retired Dean of Health Technology, to develop and maintain the college’s health programs. Grant and Pharr both retired earlier this year with a combined 60 years of health education service in Northwest Georgia.
While in college, Pharr helped establish GNTC’s respiratory therapy, ultrasound, echocardiography and vascular ultrasound programs. Pharr said the rapid growth of healthcare programs in the Northwestern Georgia region is due to industry partners recognizing that GNTC faculty are training quality workers who are ready. to work after graduation.
“The proof is that our graduates are hired,” said Pharr. “Students come here because our graduates find jobs and it attracts more students. “
According to Dr Craig McDaniel, mayor of Rome and former president of GNTC, a strong relationship with local hospitals and medical groups has helped establish the college’s new health care programs. At one point in his GNTC career, McDaniel said about a third of enrolled students were trying to enroll in a health care program.
“You can’t go to a healthcare facility in northwest Georgia without seeing a GNTC graduate,” McDaniel said. “JD Powell, the college’s first president, used to say to me, ‘The best thing that happens on a technical college campus isn’t in the president’s office, it’s in the classroom,’ and I always have took that to heart.
Since 2012, Georgia Northwestern has presented more than 5,000 diplomas, diplomas and technical certificates of credit to graduates of the college’s health care programs.
Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides vocational training to citizens of Northwestern Georgia. Students have the option of earning an associate degree, diploma or certificate in business, health, industry or public service. Last year, 11,820 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and non-credit programs. GNTC has an annual credit enrollment of 8,591 students and an additional 3,229 staff in adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.
The GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an equal opportunity institution.