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Nursing program expanding with GHS partnership

July 17, 2013 - Clemson Nursing students with patient at Clemson Free Clinic

Clemson Nursing students with patient at Clemson Free Clinic

When it comes to health care, one thing is clear: We need nurses.

As the population ages and health care needs intensify, the demand for nurses is growing. The registered nurse workforce is expected to increase 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With this growth, the United States will need nearly 440,000 new nurses
by 2024.

Equal to the demand for nurses is the need for nurses with advanced training and education. The Institute of Medicine recommends that 80 percent of nurses hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020 — a move to help the nursing workforce manage the increasing complexity of patients and the health care system.

Recognizing these needs, Clemson and Greenville Health System (GHS) are entering a unique, collaborative program expansion that will enable Clemson to increase the number of students accepted into its nursing program and expand student clinical placements within GHS.

With this partnership, entering freshmen in 2016 and beyond will have the opportunity to be part of one of two cohorts — the Clemson University School of Nursing or the Clemson University School of Nursing Greenville — beginning in the fall of their junior year.

Students in both cohorts will take general education and nursing foundation courses on Clemson’s main campus their freshman and sophomore years. Students in the Clemson University School of Nursing Greenville will complete clinical rotations during their junior and senior years at one of Greenville Health System’s seven campuses, while students in the Clemson University School of Nursing will complete clinical rotations at other health care systems across the Upstate.

By expanding clinical placements at GHS, the School of Nursing will be able to better meet enrollment demands. Historically, the School of Nursing has been able to enroll only about 8 percent of its applicants, but with the program expansion, Clemson hopes to double the enrollment over the next several years.

“Improving health in South Carolina is an important part of Clemson’s land-grant mission,” said Brett Wright, dean of the University’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, which houses Clemson’s nursing program. “We are excited about this collaboration with Greenville Health System that increases our capacity to prepare nurses, and we are grateful to all of our health system partners that give our students the best in clinical education. These efforts serve the well-being of people in South Carolina and beyond, and we are honored to be a part of the work.”

“Greenville Health System is excited to be a part of this strategic effort with Clemson that will positively affect both workforce needs and patient care,” says Brenda Thames, GHS vice president for academic and faculty affairs. “By working together, we will continue to meet the evolving health care needs of our community, state and nation.”

The nursing expansion is part of a continuing partnership between Clemson and Greenville Health System that is seeking to transform health care. Clemson has worked with GHS on health care research projects since 1990 and, in 2013, GHS and Clemson established a new health care partnership, naming the University the health system’s primary research collaborator.

Greenville Health System, Clemson celebrate growing partnership

Forever-GHSTake a top-20 national public university and add it to one of the largest health care systems in the Southeast, and what do you get? In the case of Clemson and Greenville Health System, you get a growing research and education partnership.

Clemson and GHS entered into such a partnership in June 2013 to establish a health care research powerhouse to fuel growth in medical research and breakthroughs; create opportunities for faculty, physicians and students; and accelerate the flow of research funding into the Upstate. Clemson brings to the table a host of research capabilities, while GHS offers students and researchers the clinical opportunities and partnerships they need to put ideas into action.

In the words of Windsor Sherrill, who holds the titles of chief science officer at GHS and Clemson associate vice president for health research, “We’re better together.”

This spring, Clemson and GHS celebrated the growing partnership with an event called “GHS Tiger Tuesday.” During the event, held at each of the GHS campuses, guests received Tiger Paw badge holders and information was presented about the research opportunities and special programs offered through the Clemson-GHS collaboration.

Clemson also recently announced the inaugural GHS faculty fellows, naming professors Frances Kennedy and Joel Williams to the positions where they will serve as leaders in collaborative health research between Clemson and GHS.

Kennedy and Williams will be strategically embedded in a GHS department, shifting their focus from their regular teaching duties to developing a comprehensive research agenda with their GHS department.

“The faculty fellow will produce research to improve the health of the community with their clinical partners,” Sherrill said. “Their research will also contribute to the rapidly expanding joint Clemson University and GHS collaborative research agenda through publications and presentations.”

An accounting professor, Kennedy will collaborate with the health finance department at GHS to research, develop and evaluate health care costing models. Williams, an associate professor in public health sciences, will be embedded in the pediatrics department to collaborate with physicians to transform the management, assessment and treatment of chronic pediatric diseases.

A Bias for Innovation

Innovation isn’t always creating a new, flashy product. Sometimes it’s taking something that already exists and finding a different or more efficient way to use the same product.

Lightbulb SketchThis idea, this intersection of form and function, is where science and the humanities come together. It’s also the place where universities like Clemson can allow students to stretch boundaries and truly innovate without the obstacles that often face companies — cost, time, bureaucracy of the process.

“It’s not just about making the machine, it’s also about seeing how people are going to use the product,” said David Blakesley, the Campbell Chair for Technical Communication and professor of English. He works extensively with students on the future of the traditional book — what forms it will take, how it will be published and how it will be read.

GIVING SHAPE TO IDEAS

Building on the idea of innovation while allowing for creativity is integral in Clemson’s new MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MBAe) program, which just graduated its inaugural class from the one-year program.

Designed for individuals who want to start their own companies, the program attracts students who come with a business idea, and then they spend the year networking, developing and refining their idea in the effort to graduate with a market-ready company.

“One of the primary goals of the MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is to ensure that we incorporate a bias for creativity, experimentation and innovation,” said Greg Pickett, associate dean and director of the Clemson MBA program. “Just as an entrepreneurial mindset encourages big ideas, the knowledge gained from our unique curriculum provides students the real-life tools necessary to bring ideas to the marketplace.”

Starting a company wasn’t even a consideration for May MBAe graduate Riley Csernica when she began her undergraduate career at Clemson in bioengineering in 2008. “I kind of stumbled upon it and really liked taking charge and being creative,” she said.

What started out as an idea for a capstone project for her senior design class is now being made into a full-fledged business. She and her group mates were paired with a clinician from Greenville Health System, and from discussions with him, they created a shoulder stabilization brace for athletes and active individuals who experience recurring shoulder instability issues.

With idea in hand, Csernica entered the MBAe program — and now she and one of her original group members have begun Tarian Orthotics. They’ve already received a $50,000 National Science Foundation I-CORPS award as well as $7,500 from the Clemson EnterPrize Awards, the MBAe capstone business pitch competition. They have worked through the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF), which promotes technology transfer of Clemson intellectual property, to file a provisional patent on the brace.

“There are definitely good days and bad days — there aren’t really any rule books we can look into for answers,” she said. “But through this program, we now have an idea of where we’re going and who to talk to. It was a great time for me to be able to focus on what we are trying to do big picture.”

BUILDING A CABINET OF CURIOSITY

Using an approach to education that fosters innovation, Clemson’s Creative Inquiry program immerses undergraduates in the research process. Students work in teams with faculty mentors, take ownership of their projects and assume the intellectual risks necessary to solve problems and get answers. Team-based investigations are led by a faculty mentor and typically span two to four semesters.

Creative Inquiry students develop critical-thinking skills, learn to solve problems and hone their communication and presentation skills, alongside getting to work on incredible projects with entrepreneurial prospects.

When Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital expressed the need for a pediatric arm stabilizer that could be used to facilitate blood draws from young patients, a Creative Inquiry class took the idea and worked for two years on a solution. The project team included 12 students majoring in mechanical engineering, nursing, bioengineering, business and general engineering, and CURF has since filed a provisional patent for the invention.

Think SketchIn a recent agricultural mechanization Creative Inquiry project, students converted a four-passenger electric golf cart into a teaching platform by building and designing a powertrain and utilizing a diesel engine with hydrostatic transmission. The students incorporated GPS guidance and variable rate controllers.

“We can now demonstrate agricultural power and machinery principles in addition to precision agriculture technologies in a more efficient and student-centered manner,” said Kendall Kirk, agricultural and biological engineering research assistant.

GROWING IDEAS

Clemson’s charge from the very beginning has been to innovate and improve the field of agriculture. And while the study of agriculture is far from new, researchers’ work is never done.

A team of professors and students in the agricultural mechanization and business program has designed and implemented technologies that allow a zero turn mower — a standard riding lawn mower that has a turning radius that’s effectively zero inches — to use its existing hydraulic circuit to power cylinder and motor–actuated implements. It can also operate accessory attachments such as log splitters, scrape blades, wood chippers, leaf blowers and others.

“This technology substantially increases the versatility of zero turn mowers and eliminates the need for additional internal combustion engines to drive accessories,” Kirk said.

As part of a horticulture class, students Malisia Wilkins and Allison Kelley recently tackled the idea of vertical gardening as a way to feed the hungry in small-space urban environments. Vertical gardening involves a simple structure, built vertically, that doesn’t require soil and retains water. To build one, they upcycled several standard wooden pallets and outfitted them with materials found at your average hardware store.

“When it came to designing the vertical garden, our first priority, beyond feeding people, was sustainability; our second priority was to design something inexpensive and easy to build,” they wrote in their report.

The three prototypes of varying sizes were then filled with cilantro, bell peppers, Italian parsley, kale, basil, sweet marjoram, oregano, chard, micro-greens, lettuce, strawberries, thyme — all plants that grow at shallow soil depths and, more importantly, provide nutritional value and health benefits.

“We believe that by educating individual families to produce on a micro-scale, we can work to eliminate food insecurities and hunger,” they said.

SPRINGBOARD FOR INNOVATION

Partnerships with Greenville Health System (GHS) and private corporations are helping drive innovation in the classroom as well as the business sector. From advanced materials to bioengineering, recent academic innovations have given rise to commercially applicable medical advancements.

These advancements are fueled by the 20-year partnership between the College of Engineering and Science and GHS, and more recently, the opening of the Clemson University Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus (CUBEInC) on the Patewood medical campus. This facility includes translational research laboratories that focus on cardiovascular and orthopedic engineering. CUBEInC enables the translation of high-impact medical technology and devices from the laboratory to bedside, providing numerous opportunities for entrepreneurial pursuits.

“GHS is a wonderful partner for Clemson,” said Martine LaBerge, bioengineering department chair. “Where Clemson has a comprehensive understanding of biomaterials, the hospital system is the go-to organization in Upstate South Carolina for medicine and surgery. When these areas of expertise are combined, there exists a real opportunity to make a difference in the quality of life of the people of our state.”

Using CUBEInC as a springboard for innovation, assistant professor John DesJardins and colleagues have mentored two recent senior biomedical engineering design projects that have development technologies destined for the marketplace — one of those being the newly formed Tarian Orthotics.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Thinking Person SketchInnovation and change happening in Clemson classrooms isn’t just affecting industry and business, but the future of teaching and classrooms.

“It’s so important for teachers to be able to think creatively and to be able to inspire this thinking in their students because they are charged with educating young people for an unknown future in a digital, global world that requires students to be literate across an interweaving media — from written text to the body to digital imagery to sound,” said Alison Leonard, assistant professor of arts and creativity.

To address this, she has created the Arts and Creativity Lab in Godfrey Hall, which was physically and aesthetically designed to cultivate creative and artistic thinking. The design of the space, along with the pedagogy of the class, nurtures ideas among students.

“We cannot continue to train teachers the same way that many of us were taught. The world is different,” Leonard said. “Ways of communicating continually are changing, and young students are literate in ways that are so multifaceted and mediated, that being flexible, creative, able to function and communicate effectively across cultures, contexts and media is essential.”

The same goes for long-standing products like books. In Blakesley’s class on the future of the book, his students approach creating a book in both traditional and non-traditional ways. Each has to think linearly across platforms — how will this read on the printed page? How will it read on a tablet? What will make this more interactive? In the end, the whole process is scrambled, and the writer has to rethink the approach. A book is no longer just a book in the simplest sense of the word.

The consequences of such innovation is that long-standing roles and processes need to be changed, adapted or simply eliminated. And change is hard.

“I like to think of our students as ‘change agents,’” Blakesley said. “Down the road, they’ll be more capable and likely to bring about innovation in the workplace. And they’ll be better prepared to anticipate the cost and challenges because they’ve done this already, in the classroom.”

Clemson writers Ron Grant and Jonathan Veit contributed to this article.