A $1 million philanthropic commitment from East Alabama Medical Center, or EAMC, is helping lay the foundation for the future of nursing education in the region and state. Support from the Opelika, Ala.-based hospital places Auburn University’s School of Nursing one step closer to a new building, which will facilitate growing its enrollment, enhancing students’ academic experiences, and alleviating nursing shortages.
As part of Because This is Auburn — A Campaign for Auburn University, the school is striving to raise a total of $4.8 million in private support, which will be matched with university funds, to make this new building a reality. The new nursing building, one of the university’s top-five facilities priorities, was approved by the Board of Trustees in June. It will be constructed at the corner of South Donahue Drive and Lem Morrison Drive in the campus’ developing Health Sciences Sector, which includes the Auburn campus of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and plans for a future Harrison School of Pharmacy building. The school’s new building will more than quadruple its current 11,700 square feet of space in Miller Hall, thereby increasing capacity for the school’s teaching, simulation, and research activities.
“Auburn is a leader in preparing nurses for 21st century practice and redefining primary care delivery,” said Nursing Dean Gregg Newschwander. “To continue preparing nursing’s future workforce, we must provide our students with a state-of-the-art facility offering innovative learning environments that support simulation, problem-based learning, and clinical and translational research. East Alabama Medical Center’s generous support increases our ability to stabilize staffing shortages that plague our industry.”
During the past four years, Auburn has responded to the healthcare industry’s call to increase student enrollment by more than doubling its undergraduate nursing enrollment and quadrupling its graduate nursing enrollment. This growth, unfortunately, has strained its current instructional capacity in terms of both space and faculty-to-student ratios. A new School of Nursing building will provide modern, expanded spaces accommodating more students wishing to pursue a nursing career and the additional faculty required to teach them.
EAMC’s $1 million commitment is the largest received to date in support of a new nursing building and represents but one element of its decades-long academic partnership with the school. Terry Andrus, EAMC’s president and CEO, views the hospital’s charitable support as a continuing investment in the area’s nursing workforce.
“Our giving to the school makes good business sense,” Andrus said. “We know our support of this new facility — combined with our past giving to student scholarships and faculty professorships — provides students with a top-notch learning experience. It also translates into an investment in the region’s, state’s, and nation’s healthcare infrastructure, not to mention our future nursing workforce.”
Auburn nursing students completing their clinical practice are commonplace throughout the hospital, as are nursing alumni serving in key hospital leadership positions. Andrus credits their service, along with partnerships with the school’s faculty conducting research and providing community outreach, with enhancing overall patient care in the region.
East Alabama Medical Center is a 340-bed regional referral hospital serving a six-county area and employing more than 3,000 employees in conjunction with Valley, Alabama-based affiliate hospital, EAMC-Lanier. EAMC is regionally recognized for multiple specialties, including heart surgery, orthopedics, and cancer treatment, and maintains a medical partnership with Auburn University through the Auburn University Medical Clinic. For more information, go to www.eamc.org.