At Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) recent Open House for its Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) program, prospective students toured the facilities, met instructors and learned about program entry requirements, course scheduling and admissions testing.

The ASN program is housed at GNTC’s Walker County Campus in Rock Spring and includes academic and occupational courses, along with a variety of clinical experiences to integrate theory and practice under the clinical instructor’s guidance.

“Nurses are part of an interdisciplinary team that works together, always keeping our patients and their families at the center. We make a difference,” said Michelle Spears-Sevy, program administrator for Registered Nursing at GNTC.

When their neighbors are at their most vulnerable, nurses provide care, assistance and education to help them maintain their health status, prevent illness and return to health after they become ill or injured, Spears-Sevy said. Sometimes the nurse’s role is to help a patient find peace and comfort when there is no cure for their illness or condition.

Students utilize laboratory equipment including Gaumard patient simulators, or manikins, that can replicate various human patient physiology such as respiration, heart beat and pulse. This hands-on equipment prepares students for their clinical experiences when they will work with human patients.

Upon completion of the program, graduatesreceive an associate degree in Nursing and are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)-RN exam to become a Registered Nurse (RN). Registered Nurse is one the state’s high demand career fields, and officials say the shortage is hitting rural areas the hardest.

“High demand career fields represent the occupations in each of Georgia’s key industries that are in-demand, pay an above average entry-level wage and are considered strong options for pursuing a successful career in Georgia,” said Dr. Heidi Popham, GNTC president. “These occupations are critical to these industries’ success and Georgia’s economic health.”

The American Hospital Association estimates that approximately 100,000 RNs left the workforce between 2021-23, with more than 500,000 more intending to leave by 2027; Becker’s Hospital Review asserts that the financial cost to hospitals for RN staff turnover ranges from $45,100 to $67,500 per nurse annually, Spears-Sevy said.

Nurses are needed in assisted living facilities, behavioral health facilities, doctors’ offices, home health providers, hospices, hospitals, schools and skilled nursing facilities, as well as in private duty nursing and travel nursing.

“Within GNTC’s nine-county service area and up into Chattanooga, RNs’ salaries can vary widely,” Spears-Sevy said. “Our graduates have been offered as much as $30-$45 per hour, depending on factors such as where they work, whether they work day or night shift, whether they work weekends or weekdays, etc. In general, the minimum offered has been $30 per hour.”

Many area hospitals also now offer nurse residency programs for new graduates so that they can begin learning the hospital system and protocols while waiting to take their licensure exam, Spears-Sevy said. Then the nurses transition to nursing units to continue training and mentorship, often for up to a year.

“The nursing residency program is very different from the ‘sink or swim’ mentality that many nurses graduated into in the past,” Spears-Sevy said. “At least two GNTC ASN graduates since 2017 have already gone on to become directors of Nursing in their respective long-term care and rehabilitation facilities.”

The program takes a minimum of four semesters to complete after being admitted into Nursing occupational courses. Students may enter the program at the beginning of the fall semester for the occupational curriculum or the beginning of any semester for the pre-occupational curriculum.

Students interested in pursuing the ASN program are required to attend one mandatory group advisement session to be considered for program admission. Session pre-registration is not required to attend. All sessions are located on the Walker County Campus in Room 6101 and start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 13, and 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Selection for admission to the ASN program is based on a point system, which includes consideration of course grades, state of residency, number of core courses that have been completed at GNTC and pre-entrance examination scores. The deadline to have all of these requirements completed to enter into the next available fall cohort is June 15. 

To be eligible to enter the Nursing pre-occupational curriculum, applicants must be at least 17 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED® diploma and achieve minimum scores in reading, writing and numeric skills on the entrance test. Applicants failing to attain minimum scores may receive refresher/remedial instruction through the Learning Support program at GNTC in order to meet admission requirements. Previous training and/or education may be evaluated to provide advanced placement in the program.

For more information about the program and deadlines, contact Michelle Spears-Sevy, program administrator for GNTC Registered Nursing at GNTC, at [email protected] or 706-764-3829, or visit