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University of South Carolina and Lexington Medical Center enter new partnership for clinical training of nurses and physicians

University of South Carolina and Lexington Medical Center enter new partnership for clinical training of nurses and physicians

July 6, 2022

The University of South Carolina (UofSC) board of trustees today announced a new phase in a growing public-private partnership between the university’s College of Nursing and Lexington Medical Center (LMC). A 50,000-square-foot state-of-the-art nursing simulation center and teaching space will be built on the hospital’s campus to provide clinical training for UofSC’s growing nursing student population. The project, funded by LMC, will be completed by 2024 and is estimated to cost $20 million.
 


The board also announced a new graduate medical education (GME) affiliation with LMC to help meet local and statewide needs for primary care physicians, a goal that aligns with UofSC School of Medicine Columbia’s mission to increase the number of primary care physicians in the state. The hospital’s first GME program will be in family medicine and will accept 13 residents per year beginning in summer 2023.

“Today’s announcements mark the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the relationship between the University of South Carolina and the Lexington Medical Center,” said UofSC President Michael Amiridis. “The establishment of a new state-of-the-art facility for the use of our Nursing program on the hospital’s campus and the creation of 13 new residencies in family practice make a strong statement of our shared commitment to building the future of health care in the Midlands and across South Carolina. I applaud the vision and innovative spirit of Dean Andrews, Dean Hall and the LMC leadership, and I’m looking forward to the implementation of our ambitious plans.”

Tod Augsburger, LMC president and CEO, said the partnership will address the state’s mounting health care provider needs.

“Lexington Medical Center is excited to expand our relationship with the University of South Carolina to creatively solve two challenges – the nursing shortage and the growing need for primary care physicians. As leaders in the Midlands, our organizations share a responsibility and a vision to enhance services, create opportunities and support growth in our region. These endeavors mark the beginning of a strong partnership that will improve the health of our communities for generations,” said Tod Augsburger, LMC president and CEO.
 

Nursing education expanded
 

  • Registered nurses are crucial to health care, but they are in short supply — especially in South Carolina. Among the reasons are an aging population, expansive roles for nurses, and high turnover made worse by pandemic burnout.
  • In May, the college graduated 220 nurses from the Columbia campus. With this new space at LMC, UofSC will be able to graduate 400 nurses per year in the Midlands — an 80% increase annually.
  • The new building will be used primarily for clinical training of the university’s third- and fourth-year nursing bachelor’s students as well as master’s program students. The university’s health sciences interprofessional education program also will use classroom space. 
  • The facility is expected to open for the first cohort of nursing students in fall 2024 with a groundbreaking expected this fall.
 
LMC will build the new nursing facility and provide clinical instructors while the university will fund equipment needed for the simulation center as well as equipment and furnishings for classroom spaces.
 
“Our innovative partnership with Lexington Medical Center is great news for South Carolina residents, who will directly benefit from the training we provide to future nurses,” said UofSC College of Nursing Dean Jeannette O. Andrews, PhD, RN, FAAN. “The new teaching and learning space will provide both our organizations with a win-win opportunity to help solve South Carolina’s nursing shortage. We are gratified to help lead this charge for nursing workforce development and thrilled that Lexington Medical Center is investing in the future of nursing education for our state.”
 
“South Carolina is projected to have the fourth highest nursing shortage in the country by 2030,” said Melissa Taylor, RN, MSN, NE-A, BC, vice president and chief nursing officer at Lexington Medical Center. “We’re excited about the impact of this partnership, which will grow the pipeline of skilled nurses for our organization and the state and give qualified individuals more opportunity to enter the nursing profession.”
 
UofSC students are consistently in the top 1% in the U.S. for their pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examinations for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The college’s family nurse practitioners and adult gerontological acute care nurse practitioners also have 100% board pass rates. The college ranks No. 1 for the best graduate nursing online program overall and for veterans according to the latest U.S. News & World Report. Since 2015, the college has increased prelicensure nursing student enrollment by 33%. The new building at LMC will provide critical new learning space.
 
 
Graduate Medical Education to begin
 
  • To ensure the area’s rapidly growing population has access to the highest quality care, LMC has invested in graduate medical education to train primary care physicians.
  • The hospital’s Family Medicine Residency Program is poised to be one of the largest in South Carolina, increasing available residency positions in the state by 12%.
  • Recruitment is underway for the first cohort of family medicine residents, who will begin training in July 2023 and be ready for independent practice in July 2026.
 
Construction began this year on a $19 million, 45,000-square-foot building to house the GME programs’ instructional space and patient care clinics. The hospital plans to establish additional primary care-focused residency programs over the next five to six years, including Transitional Year, Internal Medicine and OB/GYN Residency Programs. 
 
“As the area’s only independent health system, Lexington Medical Center has a long-held commitment to excellence in primary care. Training the next generation of primary care providers is aligned with our mission of providing quality health services that meet the needs of our communities. Our partnership with the University of South Carolina will ensure we have a steady source of skilled, compassionate physicians who value our culture of care and want to continue practicing here in the Midlands,” said Brent M. Powers, MD MBA FACP FACHE, senior vice president and chief medical officer at LMC.
 
“We are excited to see this expansion in training positions for health professionals. As we all work together, we are creating a healthier future for South Carolina”, said Dean Les Hall, MD, School of Medicine Columbia.
 
The university’s School of Medicine Columbia is the top medical program in the country for graduates who practice in areas where there is a shortage of health care professionals, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate School rankings. LMC hopes to attract a number of UofSC School of Medicine Columbia graduates to its GME program.
 
The university founded both the College of Nursing and School of Medicine Columbia to help meet the state’s needs for skilled health care professionals, a focus that continues to be central to their missions.

 
About University of South Carolina
 
The University of South Carolina is a globally recognized, high-impact research university committed to a superior student experience and dedicated to innovation in learning, research and community engagement. Founded in 1801, the university offers more than 300 degree programs and is a top-tier Carnegie Foundation research institution. More than 50,000 students are enrolled at one of 20 locations throughout the state, including the research campus in Columbia. With more than 60 nationally ranked academic programs including top-ranked programs in international business, the nation's best honors college and distinguished programs in engineering, law, medicine, public health and the arts, the university is helping to build healthier, more educated communities in South Carolina and around the world.


About Lexington Medical Center

Lexington Medical Center is a 557-bed hospital in West Columbia, South Carolina. It anchors a health care network that includes five community medical centers and employs a staff of more than 7,800 health care professionals. The network includes a cardiovascular program recognized by the American College of Cardiology as South Carolina’s first HeartCARE Center. The network also has an occupational health center, the largest skilled nursing facility in the Carolinas, an Alzheimer’s care center and 70 physician practices. Lexington Medical Center operates one of the busiest Emergency departments in South Carolina, treating nearly 100,000 patients each year. The hospital delivers more than 4,000 babies each year and performs more than 25,000 surgeries.