Mercer Names First Group of Piedmont Scholars


ATLANTA – The first initiative under the Center for Health and Learning, established through a partnership between Piedmont Healthcare and Mercer University last June, kicks off with the selection of the inaugural group of Piedmont Scholars. Designed to address the critical shortage of nurses in Georgia, the Piedmont Scholars program will help recruit, educate and ultimately place more nurses at Piedmont and in the community at large.

Twelve students from Georgia Baptist College of Nursing of Mercer University have been selected to participate in the scholarship nursing program. Selection criteria included demonstrated leadership, scholastic achievement and commitment to the profession of nursing. Beginning in January 2006, these students will begin having an increased amount of clinical experience at Piedmont and will participate in research on nursing practices.  

Chosen for the pilot group are Claire Draffin of Jonesboro, Ga.; Susan Garcia of Marietta, Ga.; Lisa Giles of Snellville, Ga.; Tiffany Johnson of Atlanta, Ga.; Elizabeth Kennedy of LaGrange Ga.; Katie Melton of Marietta, Ga.; Lindsay Morales of Douglasville, Ga.; Stephanie Morton of Snellville, Ga.; Kimberly Smith of Athens, Ga.; Lynne Sycamore of Duluth, Ga.; Dahnide Taylor of Chamblee, Ga.; and Christina Vidana of Decatur, Ga.

“Georgia is expected to need 80,000 nurses by 2020 to meet the state’s health care needs, and current projections estimate there will be only 48,000 nurses, 40 percent below what will be needed,” noted Susan S. Gunby, dean of Georgia Baptist College of Nursing. “The pilot group of Piedmont Scholars will be a very positive influence for our College of Nursing, for Piedmont Hospital and for the state of Georgia.”

Eventually, the Piedmont Scholars Program will name 50 scholars annually. Scholars will work with the College and Piedmont Healthcare on defining good practices, reporting what a good clinical experience involves, and identifying what is important to future graduates when considering a work commitment to a health care facility. They will also be asked to serve as ambassadors for fellow students who may be considering applying for the Piedmont Scholars Program.

“This relationship will provide significant access to qualified individuals to join Piedmont’s nursing family and will also create nursing research endeavors between Piedmont and Mercer that promote nursing as a career choice,” said Barry W. Hawthorne, vice president and chief nursing officer of Piedmont Healthcare.

The inaugural group of students will be honored by Piedmont Healthcare and Mercer University in early December, when they will be introduced to Piedmont Hospital administrative and nursing leaders, and recognized by their faculty and university leaders.

“Mercer University is delighted to partner with Piedmont Healthcare through the Piedmont Scholars program.  This initiative, which is the first of many collaborations between Piedmont and Mercer, will enhance health care delivery in Atlanta and throughout Georgia,” said Richard V. Swindle, senior vice president – Atlanta, of Mercer. “These 12 new Piedmont Scholars exemplify the type of outstanding students who will enter into this prestigious program in the years to come.”

In addition to the nursing initiative, Piedmont Healthcare aims to enhance its teaching environment and expand on-campus research that is focused on outcomes and improved patient care. Piedmont also seeks increased access to students and potential employees in nursing, pharmacy and other allied health fields. Long-term, Piedmont hopes to establish unique hospital/university integrated programs.

Mercer seeks to establish a more vigorous research presence and to deepen program offerings in nursing and pharmacy. Mercer also expects to broaden its medical residency program. In addition, Mercer aims to broaden its non-clinical education programs, such as chaplaincy, health management and health law.

About Piedmont Healthcare

Piedmont Healthcare, a not-for-profit organization, is the parent company of Piedmont Hospital, named in the Solucient 100 Top Hospitals® list in 2005 and 2002, and a 500-bed acute tertiary care facility in the north Atlanta community of Buckhead, offering all major medical, surgical and diagnostic services; Piedmont Fayette Hospital, a 100-bed acute care community hospital in Fayetteville, also named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals® for the second year in a row; Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, a 35-bed community hospital in Jasper; the Piedmont Hospital Foundation; Piedmont Physicians Group, a 72-member primary care physician group with 20 offices throughout metro Atlanta; and the Piedmont Clinic, a 460-member physician network. Piedmont and Piedmont Fayette Hospitals were the only two Georgia hospitals on the 2005 list of 100 Top Hospitals. For more information, visit

About Mercer University

Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a private, faith-based institution that has a national reputation of scholastic excellence, with rigorous academic programs, innovative teaching and time-honored values that embrace reason, responsibility, compassion and character. A dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education, the University has 7,300 students; 1,300 faculty and staff; 10 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology and nursing; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press that has published more than 1,000 volumes; four academic libraries; teaching hospitals in Macon and Savannah; an educational partnership with Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a budget of more than $150 million; an endowment of more than $180 million; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit