MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Graduate nursing students at Georgia College are receiving a federal grant totaling close to $350,00 dollars.
Dr. Sallie Coke, who wrote the grant, says it relieves students of financial strains and also promotes working in high-needs and rural health districts.
“It’s going to provide just a wealth of homegrown nurse practitioners that will be right there in their communities to help take care of the people that are there,” Coke said.
According to the United Health Foundation, Georgia was ranked 40th in overall healthcare in 2015, which Coke says is most likely a result of a statewide physician shortage.
Ashley Alford is a graduate student in the nursing program at Georgia College. A single-mom, she felt a weight lifted off her shoulders when the grant was approved.
“Being able to be present in my child’s life while at the same time fulfilling the needs and responsibilities of my school and my work has been greatly impacted by this grant,” Alford said. “I’m going to be able to be more present but also be able to give my best at work and school.”
The $350,000 dollar grant covers tuition, fees, books and other expenses. Each member of the 2017 graduating class (34 students) receives the grant.
“A lot of my students have to cut back on when they can work and most of them have families. Most of them have kids and some of them are single parents,” Coke said.
Dr. Coke wrote the grant with the intention of helping the under served areas across the state. In order to receive and keep the funds, students must fulfill a two-year obligation in a high-needs district in Georgia.
“After we graduate we’ll be able to go out into these communities and care for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to see a primary care provider,” Georgia College graduate nursing student Tara Butts said.
For more information about the Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship (AENT) grant, visit http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/nursing/grants/aent.html.