McLeod Health announced a continued commitment to nursing education at Francis Marion University (FMU). McLeod Regional Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Tony Derrick and McLeod Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Training Tim Hess were on hand to present a $75,000 gift to Francis Marion University. Over the last ten years, McLeod has provided the nursing program at FMU with a total contribution of $950,000, nearing $1 million in support.
“We want to thank McLeod Health for the continuing support to our nursing program,” said FMU President Fred Carter. “Gifts such as this allow us to continue to develop our nursing programs and will ultimately provide the resources necessary to fund other comprehensive health programs. This University is very appreciative of the generosity and support of McLeod.”
“This gift recognizes FMU for their commitment to the development of outstanding health care professionals for not only the region but for the patients of McLeod Health,” stated Tony Derrick, Chief Nursing Officer for McLeod. "McLeod Health is a large health care organization with 5 hospitals and more than 50 physician practices. We have a great need for baccalaureate educated nurses. The South Carolina Action Coalition has a goal of a nursing workforce with at least sixty-five percent that are educated at a BSN level or higher by the year 2020. We are appreciative of the University's support in helping us achieve that goal."
Due to the demand in the region, FMU began a Master of Science (MSN) program in January 2013. Two MSN tracks have begun; the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Nurse Educator. Graduates of both tracks will decrease the need for advanced practice nurses in the region.
Because nurses are so essential to health care and the region’s economy, the Pee Dee is very fortunate to have nursing education programs in Florence at Florence-Darlington Technical College and Francis Marion University. McLeod Health provides funds in support of both.
Derrick stated, “These nursing programs are very important to McLeod. Not only do we provide funding for both schools but we also offer nursing scholarships with each program for qualifying students."
Izandria Durant is a nursing student at Francis Marion University. She is on target to graduate in May 2015. Durant is putting her educational skills to work by serving as a McLeod Nurse Extern caring for surgical patients.
"I chose nursing as a profession because of my passion and willingness to give and care for others," said Durant. "Growing up, my Mom worked in the healthcare profession, and seeing the way she bonded with her patients touched my heart. I would think, 'wow I want to be just like that'."
Durant is also a McLeod Scholarship recipient. McLeod helps nursing students reach their educational goals through scholarships to the Francis Marion University Nursing Program. Since 2006, McLeod has awarded in excess of $1,182,000 in scholarship monies to FMU nursing students.
"Scholarship programs are blessings in disguise, especially for those who have the passion, and need assistance with the finances," said Durant. "It makes you feel good to know that someone wants to invest in your future."
Dr. Ruth Wittmann-Price, Professor and Chair for the Department of Nursing at
Francis Marion University (FMU) underscored the importance of the financial support as well as the clinical support in nursing education by McLeod Health.
“The clinical practice piece is what nursing is all about,” said Dr. Price. “By participating in patient care at the hospital, our nurses graduate with a more complete understanding of how to care for an individual. In a hospital setting, a nurse needs to not only be able to care for the patient while in the hospital, but also to help prepare them for going home - such as education for home care, and referrals to community agencies.
“Having McLeod Staff function as clinical instructors brings a level of expertise to the program” said Dr. Price. “These clinical instructors meet with the university professors to make sure that what is being taught in class is supported in the clinical environment.”
Additionally McLeod serves as a learning site for more than 100 nurses a year who are students in local nursing programs.
“Most of our students are from the Pee Dee and want to stay here after graduation to work,” said Dr. Price. “Expanding this program to meet the nursing needs of this region is very beneficial to everyone.”
Heather Grier, McLeod Director of Talent Management; Tim Hess, McLeod Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Training; Izandria Durant, FMU Nursing Student and McLeod Employee; Tony Derrick, Chief Nursing Officer for McLeod Regional Medical Center; Dr. Ruth Wittmann-Price, chair of the FMU Department of Nursing; FMU President Dr. Fred Carter; Tavy Smalls, McLeod Healthcare Recruiter; and FMU Provost Dr. Richard Chapman