FLORENCE, S.C. – McLeod Health has once again partnered with Francis Marion University to support the university’s nursing program.
McLeod Regional Medical Center administrator Marie Segars, McLeod Health chief nursing officer Stephanie McLeod, and FMU nursing graduate and McLeod registered nurse Lindsey Ward were on hand Tuesday (Aug. 8) to present a $100,000 gift to FMU officials.
“We are pleased that McLeod Health is generously continuing its longstanding support of our growing nursing program,” said FMU President Fred Carter. “This gift will help increase the number of local baccalaureate-educated nurses, thereby reducing the area’s shortage of nurses and improving health care in the Pee Dee.”
This donation by McLeod Health reflects continued financial support of the nursing program at FMU, in addition to McLeod’s previous contributions to nursing education through the Medical University of South Carolina satellite nursing program at FMU over the past six years. This is the second consecutive year that McLeod has provided this level of support directly to the nursing program at FMU.
The new stand-alone FMU nursing program has been in the process of expanding to provide more baccalaureate-degree prepared nurses. The program will increase the number of nursing majors this year by 50 percent, from 32 to 48.
“This gift recognizes the university and its nursing program for their commitment to the development of outstanding health care professionals for the Pee Dee region, which helps to offset critical shortages in nursing, both statewide and nationally,” said Stephanie McLeod.
“Because nurses are so vital to health care, the Pee Dee is very fortunate to have two excellent nursing education programs in Florence at Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College,” McLeod said. “These two programs are the cornerstone for recruiting, retention and cultivation of exceptional nurses by McLeod and other health care providers in the region.”
This is particularly important in offsetting the state shortage of nurses. According to statewide nursing data, South Carolina has an average 12 percent nurse-vacancy rate.
The success of the relationships with the two college nursing programs, coupled with strong recruiting efforts, has helped McLeod and other health care providers in the region to improve their nursing vacancy rate considerably. McLeod’s current nurse vacancy rate is 5.3 percent.
The region needs nurses for hospitals, home health services, hospice services, physician offices, school nursing programs and other areas of health care.
“These nursing programs are vital to McLeod as the medical center continues to grow with the expansion of the new Surgical Tower and other enhanced services, which will also need additional staffing and nurses,” added McLeod.
Sylvia Lufkin, professor and chair of the FMU Department of Nursing, 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 Lufkin. “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 Lufkin. “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.
The nursing program at FMU was established in 1982. Last year, MUSC agreed to transfer administrative control to FMU of the baccalaureate-nursing program so that FMU may house its own nursing program. McLeod Health joins other local donors in supporting FMU’s plans with contributions to construct a two-story building that will have the classrooms, patient care labs and support spaces needed for an expanded nursing program.
The new Frank B. Lee Nursing Building will open this fall. The 30,000-square-foot facility is located on the north side of the campus pond. The facility will provide space for this expansion including classrooms, an auditorium, a clinical lab area and a computer lab.
“Most of our students are from the Pee Dee and want to stay here after graduation to work,” said Lufkin. “Expanding this program to meet the nursing needs of this region will be very beneficial to everyone.”
In addition to this year’s gift to the FMU nursing programs, McLeod also offers scholarships to eligible students to assist students who need financial aid with nursing school. McLeod scholarships are available to college students who have been accepted in an accredited allied healthcare program such as nursing.
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