In an effort to help solve the nursing shortage crisis, Berry College plans to double its number of nursing graduates.  To that end, an Atlanta philanthropist has donated $5 million for nursing scholarships at Berry, and the college has recruited a top leader to direct its growing program.  

Audrey B. Morgan, a self-made businesswoman, is known for her longtime generosity to Berry students. 

“This most recent transformative gift will give a tremendous boost to Berry’s young and stellar nursing program, allowing it to attract top students who can benefit from the first-rate clinical opportunities in the Rome medical community,” said Berry President Steve Briggs. 

In addition to the gift for the Berry nursing program, Morgan also collaborated with her late sister and business partner, Bobbie Bailey, with medical projects and nursing at DeKalb Medical Cancer Center and Kennesaw State University.  She also founded the innovative Gate of Opportunity Scholarship program at Berry.

Health field leaders have been warning for years that hospitals face a nursing shortage. One widely cited study projects a shortfall of 510,394 registered nurses by 2030.  

“Berry’s significant expansion of faculty, students and this scholarship is a robust response to this crisis. We will grow the number of well-qualified students who may not have the financial resources to attend Berry,” said newly hired Berry College Division of Nursing Director Carolyn Reilly, PhD, RN, FAAN.

Reilly, who came from Emory University, has an extensive history as a critical care nurse, Clinical Nurse Specialist, and academic. She earned her PhD in nursing from the University of Nebraska, and her master’s degree in nursing from Emory.  Her passion today lies in helping to shape nurses for our future.

“We really have to meet the growing need for nurses,” she said. “I hope to take an already stellar program, with a solid reputation for producing quality nurses, and expand our size, scope and depth.” 

In addition to growing the program, Reilly and her team are developing a fast-track program for students entering with dual/ AP credit from high school to allow for completion with a BSN a full semester early. Beyond receiving over 650 hours of direct clinical care, signature to the nursing program at Berry is a summer immersion for students between their junior and senior years in which they experience clinical nursing care in developing nations. Africa is on tap for 2023. 

According to Reilly, “While the care Berry students provide as nurses will be rooted in science, we hope it will be translated by their hearts and characterized by compassion fulfilling the unique educational mission of our founder Martha Berry.  Our growth plan emphasizes the quality and compassion of our nursing graduates, and that has led to stellar NCLEX pass rates, 100% job placement before graduation, and success in health care settings.”