Atrium Health Floyd and GNTC Announce Partnership

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, May 31st, 2024

To help remedy a shortage of area healthcare professionals, Atrium Health Floyd and Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) have signed a new agreement designed to boost enrollment in three of GNTC's healthcare programs and increase the number of Respiratory Therapists, Radiologic Technologists and Certified Nursing Assistants in the northwest Georgia region.

 According to the fund agreement, Atrium Health Floyd commits nearly $1.1 million to be disbursed over five years to increase total enrollment in the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Radiologic Technology and Respiratory Care programs at GNTC's Floyd County Campus in Rome. The agreement was signed May 8.

 GNTC will place at least 10 Radiologic Technology students, three Respiratory Care students and all Floyd County Campus CNA students enrolled in the program in Atrium Health Floyd preceptorship slots each year, contingent upon the availability of slots and in addition to other clinical rotations needed to complete their academic program; a preceptorship is highly focused, clinical training in which a student receives individual mentorship in a specific clinical setting.

 “Georgia Northwestern Technical College is very grateful for the opportunity to work with Atrium Health Floyd and to build upon our partnership of over six decades," said Dr. Heidi Popham, GNTC president. “Today, we showcase GNTC's continued commitment to providing a skilled workforce for our healthcare industry and Atrium Health Floyd's unwavering support in assisting us in accomplishing our mission." 

“We are excited about our work with Georgia Northwestern Technical College," said Kurt Stuenkel, president of Atrium Health Floyd. “Working together, we will build on the successes we already have with the Respiratory Care and Radiologic Technology programs as well as others, creating opportunities for clinical experiences and a pipeline for careers in these and other health occupations fields."

 “The growth trajectory for Radiologic Technologists is double the rate of most other professions, and the need for Respiratory Therapists is growing four times faster than most other health professions. And we are experiencing the need for those clinical skills right here in our own market as we continue to expand our reach," Stuenkel said.
  In Spring 2024, the enrollments for those programs at the Floyd County Campus were as follows: two students in Nurse Aide Accelerated (CNA), 23 students in Radiologic Technology and 55 students in Respiratory Care.

 In addition to the students completing their program-specific courses, GNTC has 202 students completing pre-requisite courses with the intent of entering these high-demand programs.

 GNTC has already accepted 15 students into the new Nurse Aid Accelerated (CNA) program for the summer 2024 semester, said Allie Patnode, dean of Nursing and Health Technologies at GNTC.

 The agreement will also be used to help fund instructor positions and laboratory upgrades at GNTC.

 The GNTC Foundation will administer the fund, which will create semi-annual and annual compliance reports.

“We have worked closely with GNTC for several decades, and many students who have completed their clinical training there have emerged as leaders at Atrium Health Floyd," said Dr. Sheila Bennett, Atrium Health Floyd senior vice president and chief of patient services.

 “Our imaging services director, Ches Ely, is a 2005 graduate of GNTC's Radiologic Technology program, and Jay Shedd, our director of Respiratory Therapy, also is an alumnus," Bennett said. “Both programs are critical to our hospitals as we provide comprehensive and compassionate care to our patients. This partnership ensures we will continue to onboard highly skilled teammates to fulfill our mission of healing for all."