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'A lot of opportunity': Middle Georgia State's Dublin campus gets funds aimed at easing nurse shortage

Altogether, the state has funded $5.7 million in improvements to Middle Georgia State University's nursing program in Dublin.

DUBLIN, Ga. — Governor Brian Kemp is allocating $900,000 to Middle Georgia State University's Dublin's campus to help the college to graduate more nurses and address the state's critical nursing shortage.

Freeman Shepard, a nursing student, says Middle Georgia State University welcomed him with, "Open arms -- MGA has been outstanding, faculty and staff has been amazing. I was just inspired. I felt the call to serve my community and be a part of the medical field."

Shepard owns a barbershop in Dublin with his brother, but he decided he wanted to change it up a bit and pursue a career in nursing.

"It's such a noble thing to know how to do, to react in an emergency situation, to help someone out who's struggling, whether it's physical or mental," said Shepard.

Shepard's in his first semester at MGA, so he will get the chance to use the two large nursing lecture classrooms, a 20-bed hospital laboratory, and a 3-bed nursing simulation lab.

"A lot of opportunity, a lot of options for a career path. I am still undecided. I think I maybe want to be an ER nurse, but I am not sure yet. I am waiting for clinicals to help me decide my true path," said Shepard.

Dr. Tara Underwood, the Dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences, explains the need for state-of-the-art technology, simulation labs being high on the list.

"Our health science students in particular, to practice on mannequins and practice various situations they will encounter in the hospital or various healthcare settings," said Underwood.

Born and raised in Dublin, Shepard sees himself staying close to home. 

"I would like to stay local and work at our local hospital here at Fairview Park, maybe Macon," he said.

Altogether, the state has funded $5.7 million  in improvements to Middle Georgia State University's nursing program in Dublin. They expect to complete their expansion there this summer 2022.