Nursing students at the University of South Carolina will work to get the practical experience under an expanded program at the Carolina Family Practice.
The medical clinic this week celebrated the grand opening of its new office in Columbia. Clinic director and clinical assistant professor at the USC College of Nursing Toriah Caldwell says the clinic needed more space and more visibility.
“This is the perfect location for us,” she says. “We are hoping to grow. Where we were, our growth was stunted because we did not have enough space to grow. We’re looking forward to growing and increasing our clientele.”
Students who are studying nursing, pharmacy and social work get practical experience working alongside faculty at the clinic.
“We provide an opportunity for the whole healthcare team to work together,” Caldwell said. “I think it’s very important for them to see, especially how a nurse-managed health care center is run. Especially if we’re seeing our nurse practitioner students, they can get an idea of, ‘oh, I would like to open my own practice one day,’ they can get an idea of how that is.”
She said clinics such as Carolina Family Practice can save local governments like Richland County millions of dollars in health care costs.
“Last year we saved them $2 million because we are accessible. We see patients. We keep them out of the emergency rooms where they don’t go to the E-R for non-emergent conditions,” she says. “There is a need for primary care all over the nation. With the shortages of doctors that’s projected over the next 20 to 25 years, there is a need for this type of facility.”
Caldwell says it’s also a model for nurse-based family care in South Carolina.
“This is the perfect model to help fill the gaps of our healthcare disparities here in this state, and especially in areas, places where there aren’t any physicians.”