The nursing computer laboratory at Shorter University has been named in memory of a renowned surgical oncologist thanks to a recent grant made through the Georgia Baptist Foundation.

In establishing his estate plans, Dr. A. Hamblin “Hamby” Letton wanted to make a lasting impact upon healthcare education in Georgia. That intention became reality recently as Shorter University dedicated its nursing computer lab in memory of Dr. Letton.

Sam Warner, vice president of development for the Georgia Baptist Foundation, represented the foundation and the Letton family at the dedication. He, along with Shorter University President Don Dowless and Ben Bruce, Shorter’s vice president of advancement, unveiled the sign to mark the official naming of the Letton Nursing Computer Laboratory.

A legacy of excellence

A surgical oncologist, Dr. Letton served as chair of the department of surgical oncology at Georgia Baptist Medical Center. He was chief of staff at the hospital from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. In 1950, he was a founder of the hospital’s nuclear medicine lab, and later was a cofounder of the Atlanta Cancer Center and directed one of the first three breast cancer detection demonstration projects.

Dr. Letton became active in the American Cancer Society’s Georgia division in 1948, a time when there were no mammograms or Pap smears, and chemotherapy was only a vague concept. He remained active through the decades, chairing several national committees before serving as president of the national organization in 1971, the year when President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act. After signing the legislation, President Nixon turned to shake Dr. Letton’s hand.

In 1998, Dr. Letton was recognized as the society’s first 50-year volunteer. He has been described as “an advocate for data and research (related to cancer), who understood that it would have no impact if that knowledge is not translated into treatment, practiced and disseminated in a manner that allows medical professionals and patients to make sound decisions.”

Dr. Letton passed away in January of 2010 at the age of 93.

“We are delighted that Dr. Letton’s legacy of health care excellence will be an ongoing part of our Brady School of Nursing,” said Dowless. “Shorter University is grateful for the generous foresight Dr. Letton had in establishing an estate plan that would continue to benefit Christian health care education well beyond his lifetime.”

The Letton Nursing Computer Lab at Shorter is used by all students who are pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

“We know that the students who study in the computer lab that now bears Dr. Letton’s name will have a world of knowledge available to them as they are preparing to honor the Lord Jesus Christ through their calling into the nursing profession,” Dowless said.

Shorter’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program encourages its students to share the love of Christ by becoming health care professionals. The program has been ranked among the Top 10 nursing schools in Georgia for three consecutive years. The school has maintained an NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate greater than 80 percent during that time frame.

“At Shorter University, our nursing program is crafted to fit well with our mission of Transforming Lives through Christ. Our nursing faculty excel in providing the classroom and clinical training that future nurses need to be successful in their careers. Added to that is a strong emphasis on the calling of serving others with the love of Jesus Christ through the nursing profession,” Dr. Dowless said.

A lasting impact

“Nursing is a challenging and rewarding profession that is a crucial part of the American health care system,” said Roxanne Johnston, dean of Shorter’s Brady School of Nursing. “The demand for registered nurses has never been greater. As COVID-19 has impacted schools of nursing, faculty are having to become creative with instruction. It is one thing to move instruction to an online environment; however, it is another all together having to demonstrate and learn life-saving skills through virtual demonstration. The Brady School of Nursing has purchased two additional mid-fidelity simulators to assist as teaching adjuncts. We have also decreased the number of students in the skills-simulation lab at one time and are offering more opportunities for hands on practice. It is our hope that in spite of COVID-19 we can exceed our high standards for academic excellence.”

Funding from the Letton estate supported the purchase of the mid-fidelity simulators for the Simulation and Skills Practice Suite at Shorter’s nursing school. The simulation lab has also been supported by previous generous grants from the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation.

“Our simulation lab allows our faculty to design life-like scenarios through which students can learn from both successful interventions as well as pitfalls and failures,” Johnston said. “In an actual clinical setting, faculty would not allow students to make errors that would create negative patient outcomes. Simulated exercises allow the error to unfold and task the student with mitigating the outcome. Research has shown that students who experience this type of learning are less likely to make similar errors in clinical practice.”

“With our simulation and skills practice suite, we are able to create conditions to replace or amplify real patient experiences with scenarios designed to replicate real health encounters using lifelike manikins. In this setting, a student can clinically engage in a practice environment where mistakes are not harmful or dangerous to patients but rather a powerful learning experience for the nursing students.”

The Brady School of Nursing has been a member of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing since 2009. In November 2011, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education conducted the initial accreditation review and granted the school accreditation. The Georgia Board of Nursing also awarded the Brady School full approval in 2011.

In 2014, the School of Nursing was named the Ben and Ollie Brady School of Nursing in appreciation of a generous grant given by the Ben and Ollie Brady Foundation and honoring that Georgia Baptist couples’ commitment to Christ-centered education.

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