GREENSBORO (July14, 2021) – To examine how one state university is confronting North Carolina’s nursing shortage, we need to look back six years.
“We’re turning away 140 qualified nursing students every year,” UNC Greensboro Chancellor Franklin Gilliam Jr. said in 2015. “Cone Health tells us we cannot produce nurses fast enough for them to hire.
“We need those workers…. These are high-paying jobs.”1
With $105 million from the Connect NC bond issue that voters approved in March 2016, UNCG opened its new, 180,000-square-foot Nursing and Instructional Building in January. The structure offers 14 classrooms, 39 labs and nine research suites – as well as the most modern, lifelike instructional equipment available.
“We had a lot of applicants, and we just didn’t have room for them,” Gilliam says in the accompanying video. “That was the impetus for the Nursing and Instructional Building.
“But then we get a pandemic – and it becomes ever more clear how badly we need nurses and how important they are to our health-care system.”
With a new building and a new dean – Debra Barksdale, who spent 13 years as an administrator in UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Nursing2 – UNCG is poised to provide more nurses in the Piedmont Triad, which has several major hospitals and health systems. It has also launched an entirely online RN-to-BSN program to help working registered nurses to more easily earn bachelor’s degrees.
“We really have the opportunity to increase the supply, at least in our own way,” Gilliam says. “And more importantly, the supply we produce is going to be even better-prepared.”
Gilliam highlights one floor of the Nursing and Instructional Building (or NIB, as it’s known on campus) that looks like a hospital ward, complete with extremely lifelike “dummies” in the beds.
“This is going to give our nursing students really cutting-edge training,” he says. “I know our new dean is excited about that, the faculty’s excited, and the students are excited.”
Glossary of Nursing Terms: