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On March 22, 2024, a group of individuals gathered at Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina to mark the progress of the School of Health Sciences on campus. Among those present were North Carolina Senator Buck Newton and North Carolina Representative Ken Fontenot, who presented a ceremonial check of $3.7 million to College leadership, Board of Trustees members, faculty, and students. This funding will support the development of innovative healthcare programs at Barton College, aimed at addressing the growing demand for healthcare professionals in Wilson and Eastern North Carolina.

Dr. Douglas N. Searcy, president of Barton College, expressed gratitude for the partnership with state legislators and the community support in advancing healthcare education and workforce development in the region. The funding secured by lawmakers will primarily go towards the construction of a health science facility featuring a simulation hospital and teaching facility. This initiative is a direct response to the increasing need for healthcare and mental health professionals in Eastern North Carolina.

The region is currently experiencing shortages in nurses, nurse educators, primary care providers, and mental health professionals, creating challenges in access to care for residents. Barton College, as the only institution offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in Wilson County, is well-positioned to address these challenges and provide pathways for students to enter the healthcare workforce. The development of new healthcare programs at Barton College will help meet the growing demand for healthcare services in the region and contribute to the overall well-being of the community.

Barton College has been committed to providing quality education and training for future healthcare professionals since its establishment in 1909. The addition of new healthcare programs will further enhance its mission by equipping students with cutting-edge knowledge and skills necessary to excel in their chosen fields.

“We are thrilled about this partnership with our state legislators,” said Dr. Searcy. “This funding will allow us to expand our offerings beyond nursing education into other areas such as physician assistant studies or clinical psychology.”

The construction of a health science facility featuring a simulation hospital and teaching facility is an important step towards addressing the shortages faced by residents seeking access to medical services. With this new building that will be equipped with modern technology such as telemedicine systems or virtual reality simulations that can provide immersive learning experiences for students.

Senator Newton added: “I am proud that we could invest resources towards ensuring that future generations have access to quality healthcare education.” Representative Fontenot echoed his sentiment saying: “Healthcare is critical infrastructure

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