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GGC Holds First Nursing Pinning Ceremony

Students, faculty, staff, family members and community partners gathered for Georgia Gwinnett College’s historic, first nursing pinning ceremony, held May 16th on campus.

Steeped in decades of traditions, this solemn but uplifting ceremony marks the entrance of graduating nursing students into the profession.

“Each nursing school or program has unique aspects to the ceremony, but typically, it includes the presentations of the pins and recitation of a variation of the Nightingale Pledge,” said Dr. Diane White, dean of the School of Health Sciences. “It is deeply meaningful, as the responsibility for caring for others in times of need is not just a career choice; it is a life’s calling.”

Each school or program has its own customized lapel pin. Many nurses wear their pins daily as a symbol of where they received their training. GGC’s pin includes the school’s colors of green and gray and a nurse’s lamp, another symbol with ties to Florence Nightingale. The lamp is held aloft by a pair of caring hands, another traditional symbol of nursing and focal point of GGC’s nursing program.

The ceremony included a congratulatory message from Philip R. Wolfe, president and CEO of Gwinnett Medical Center, a charter nursing partner of GGC’s program. Wolfe also is a member of the GGC Foundation Board of Trustees.

The ceremony included four special awards, presented by Eastside Medical Center, also a charter nursing partner. Ivori Miller of Snellville received the Clinical Excellence Award; Susan Yoon of Duluth received the Nursing as Caring Award; Amelia Jones of Lawrenceville received the program’s Professional Leadership Award and Jordan Rudnicki of Dacula received the Pillar Award. The Pillar Award recognizes excellence in GGC’s four pillars of scholarship, leadership, creativity and service.

Gina Micourt-Glenn of Lawrenceville spoke on behalf of the 24 nurses receiving their pins. She referenced the nursing program’s caring faculty and the close relationships among the students.

“Strangers became friends and friends became family,” she said.

The nurses will graduate tomorrow with the rest of the GGC class of 2016, the first of the charter nursing class to earn their bachelor’s degrees. The rest of the charter class will graduate later this year.

“This nursing program was planned since Georgia Gwinnett’s inception,” said Dr. Stas Preczewski, president. “Its graduates will help fill the local medical community’s growing need for baccalaureate-level nursing professionals. Following their graduation tomorrow, these students will then prepare to take their nursing boards, which they must pass to begin their careers. I have no doubt they have been well-prepared by our outstanding program.”

The college also has partnerships with several of the local community’s medical facilities, which provide outstanding clinical experiences for its students. This includes Gwinnett Medical Center, Eastside Medical Center, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Public Health, DeKalb Medical Center, Life Care Center of Lawrenceville, Georgia Head Start, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Kaiser Permanente, The Good Samaritan and the Prima Ambulatory Surgery Center.

The GGC nursing program is highly selective. Only up to 32 students are accepted into the program each fall and spring semester. Applicants must have completed their first two years of college and have an excellent academic record.

The program itself is changing the game in nursing education.

“Ours is Georgia’s first program designed to be concept-based from its beginning, and only one of two in the state,” said Dr. Lois C. Richardson, interim senior vice president of Academic and Student Affairs and provost. “Combined with the program’s selectivity, this approach will instill a high level of prestige and credibility in a GGC nursing degree.”

Before beginning their first semester, GGC’s nursing students attend a three-day “boot camp.” Uncommon among nursing programs, this comprehensive orientation prepares students for success. They learn what to expect from clinical experiences and e-resources, how nursing is different from other degree programs and how to manage GGC’s innovative “flipped classroom.”

“In a flipped classroom environment, homework is done first. Students view online materials before class, and then participate in hands-on, laboratory and simulation activities in class that reinforce conceptual learning,” said Dr. Sharon Grason, director of the nursing program.

Housed in the Allied Health and Sciences building, GGC’s nursing program is supported by an Interactive Clinical Learning Center (ICLC), including a Simulation Suite with four simulation labs equipped with

wireless technology for managing patient bed simulations. The simulation mannequins are so life-like they mimic virtually any medical situation, even childbirth. Control rooms with one-way mirrors allow faculty to facilitate patient scenarios and video students as they work with the simulators. The suite has electronic patient medication dispensing systems students will use in giving medications.

The ICLC also contains a 14-bed Nursing Skills Laboratory resembling a large intensive care unit, complete with a nurses’ station. All students learn electronic health records through the use of software used in actual clinical settings.

Another unique feature in GGC’s nursing program is the mandatory use of laptops and e-texts for learning.

“It is important to train nurses to work in the environments they will encounter in actual clinical settings,” said Grason. “We prepare our students to function effectively in health care’s dynamic, multi-disciplinary and highly interactive work environments.”

GGC’s faculty also have a distinctive approach to their roles and interactions with students.

“We focus on success, not failure,” White said. “Our policies and even our language support the expectation that our students will succeed. We don’t just role model the concept of ‘care for.’ We also ‘care about.’ This provides a learning environment very different from that of some other programs.”