On the good news front, the Berry College Division of Nursing has been awarded accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The division can take pride in achieving this goal in only three years.

Dean of Nursing Vanice W. Roberts praised the faculty for its work in developing and implementing “an innovative curriculum to prepare the nursing graduate for the future and make a difference in positive patient outcomes and health care both locally and globally.” The first nursing students graduated in May and the first of those has passed the licensure exam.

Berry is ideally situated in terms of clinical learning for the nursing students: There are three large medical facilities available — plus more physicians and specialists per capita than any Georgia city, with approximately 685 doctors, according to the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce.

Berry’s entry into nursing is most timely. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a need for nearly 600,000 more nurses by 2022, an increase of 19.4 percent over 2012. That’s how many will be needed to keep pace with the increasing number of patients and the number of nurses leaving their profession. It’s called the “silver tsunami,” the looming retirement of Baby Boomers — who include more than half of the nursing workforce, according to a report by Rasmussen College.

Compounding the problem, there’s a shortage of faculty nationwide in nursing schools. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing in a recent report said U.S. schools of nursing turned away nearly 69,000 qualified applicants in 2014 “due to an insufficient number of faculty” and other problems. “Almost two-thirds of the nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into baccalaureate programs,” the AACN said.

Thus, the opportunity for Berry is wide open as the demands of health care continue to grow at a strong pace. The same can be said for Shorter University with its established program and other colleges with nursing schools in our area.

Berry in its announcement of the nursing school accreditation said: “There is no career more in tune with Berry’s signature ‘head, heart and hands’ approach to learning than nursing.” We agree and offer our congratulations to Berry College.