GCSU nets $2.6 million grant to help combat rural healthcare crisis


Editor's Note: Written and compiled by Georgia College Office of Communications

To increase the number of available healthcare professionals in rural Georgia, Georgia College & State University has received the Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) grant.

Georgia is one of the most populous states in the nation yet lacks access to primary care in 149 counties, according to the grant proposal by Dr. Sallie Coke, professor of nursing, and Dr. Monica Ketchie, associate professor of nursing.

The $650,000 a year award is the third of its kind received by the School of Nursing since 2017, and will run for the next four years. The $2.6 million over that period brings the amount used to train nurse practitioners and midwives in rural Georgia to $6.8 million.

That makes Georgia College one of only a few schools in the country to receive this grant for the full, 10-year period.

The ANEW grant is issued by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). It funds the ANEW scholarship at Georgia College, which provides Georgian nurses full tuition toward advanced practice degree concentrations, like midwifery.

Graduates must agree to serve at least two years in an underserved area to apply. Over the last six years, 115 nurses have received scholarships to advance their careers in medically underserved parts of Georgia.

Currently, 84% of nursing graduates continue to serve shortage areas.


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“This HRSA grant will enable Georgia College to train graduate-level nurse practitioners in several specialties to help improve health outcomes in rural Georgia,” said Dr. Will Evans, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “In turn, they will agree to practice in rural areas and provide healthcare to many major underserved communities in our state.”

Funds allow the School of Nursing to find clinical placements for students and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in rural areas. In many instances, it’s too expensive for rural communities to hire a nurse practitioner.

“This is all about rural health and aiding underserved communities in Georgia,” Coke said. “That’s the huge focus of this particular workforce grant."

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Coke’s team has partnered with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) to send nurses for advanced education opportunities, as well. In the last six years, 30 DPH nurses have completed advanced-practice education through the ANEW scholarship at Georgia College.

Fourteen nurses have agreed to stay and work for the DPH following the program they begin this fall.

“People know about our program and that we seek students from Georgia who want to practice in their small hometowns or other rural areas,” Coke said. “Receiving this grant is exciting, and it means we’re making an impact.”

This press release is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $2,599,911 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov

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