USC and Lexington Medical Center partnership hopes to address state’s nursing shortage

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — The shortage of nurses in the country is also a challenge right here in the Midlands.

However, a new partnership between Lexington Medical Center and the University of South Carolina is working to solve that.

“These last two years of the pandemic have been dramatically difficult for everyone in our country, our communities, in healthcare and particularly in education as well,” said Tod Augsburger, Lexington Medical Center CEO.

According to the Bureau of Health workforce data, there are only seven nurses per 1,000 people in South Carolina, the lowest number in the country.

To fix this issue, Lexington Medical Center and the University of South Carolina are expanding their partnership.

“USC and the Lexington Medical Center already have a long history of working together. However, today’s announcement announces a change in this relationship,” said USC president Michael Amiridis.

The announcement included news of a new 50,000 square foot nursing simulation center and teaching space for USC students to be built on Lexington Medical Center’s campus. The facility’s groundbreaking is set for late fall or early winter with a completion date set for 2024. 

“The nursing program at USC is second to none. We just need more of them,” Augsburger said. “This will allow us to dramatically increase the number of nurses who are ready on day one to provide great care to our friends and neighbors in our hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices.”

This May, the university graduated 220 nurses. Lexington Medical Center is hoping to keep many of those in the state.

“South Carolina is predicted to have the 4th highest nursing shortage by 2030. It’s important that we increase that pipeline and encourage people to stay here to take care of our citizens,” said Melissa Taylor, LMC chief nursing officer.

The dean of USC’s nursing program hopes to graduate 400 nursing students a year in the next few years. She says the new facility helps in doing just that.

“This expansion doubles my space. We will have 50 thousand square feet at the Lexington campus for my new nurses. Then I’ll have my current space to grow our graduate programs, such as our nurse practitioner programs, our future faculty and our research on this campus,” said Jeannette Andrews, dean of USC College of Nursing.

The partnership also includes a new graduate medical education program which begins next summer. Thirteen residents per year will be accepted to the Lexington Medical Center Program.

“My vision is that this university is going to be known for building the future of South Carolina,” Amiridis said. “We’re building the future by educating future leaders of the state in all fields. Today, you have a great example in health sciences.”

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