New Equipment at Six South Georgia Hospitals Assists Nurses Pursuing ABAC Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Staff Report From Tifton CEO

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing just got a lot easier in South Georgia thanks to the cooperation of six rural hospitals who utilized grant funds to install mobile video carts to assist nurses enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) online program at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

“Despite the popularity, online teaching and learning sometimes present challenges,” Dr. Jaibun Earp, Dean of the ABAC School of Nursing and Health Sciences, said.  “Using this dedicated video conferencing technology in the classroom increases faculty-student interaction and social presence which improves student learning outcomes.” 

Troy Spicer, Director of the ABAC Health Center, says visuals really make a difference.

“Putting a face with a name goes a long way in today’s digital world,” Spicer said.  “Making a connection with students in an online program, especially one as rigorous as nursing, can lead to increased student success.” 

Through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Services/Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant, Spicer seized the opportunity to provide dedicated video conferencing mobile video carts at Mitchell County Hospital in Camilla, Miller County Hospital in Colquitt, Phoebe Worth Medical Center in Sylvester, Brooks County Hospital in Quitman, Grady General Hospital in Cairo and Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert to allow employees interested in working on the online BSN degree at ABAC to have face-to-face conversations.  

“The employees in the program can use the video conferencing hardware to allow for video calls so the employees can speak with faculty, get answers to questions, conduct informational/orientation sessions, and hold advising sessions,” Spicer said.  “The application also allows for sharing content and video via high resolution cameras.”

Dr. Tami Dennis, coordinator of ABAC’s online RN-BSN program, recently made use of the technology with BSN online student Allison Whitaker at Grady General.  Even though Whitaker is not a Grady General employee, the administration there offered use of the space and the video system to others in the community who are pursuing the BSN degree. 

“Rather than Skyping from her home, Allison now meets other nurses at Grady General when she’s online to ABAC,” Dennis said.  “When she needs to reach out to her ABAC nursing faculty advisor, she has access to the board room at Grady General which allows her to develop a relationship and have a presence there prior to completing her bachelor’s degree.” 

The RN to BSN program in the ABAC School of Nursing is designed to provide the educational opportunity for the RN who has an associate of science in nursing (ASN) or diploma to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“Nurses return to ABAC to pursue a BSN degree to enhance their education and prepare them for additional career opportunities,” Dennis said.  “Since students are already RNs with requisite clinical skills, emphasis is more on leadership, critical thinking, collaboration and population health.”