Dr. Michelle Byrne, professor of nursing and coordinator of the master's in nursing education program at North Georgia College & State University, has been named a Georgia March of Dimes' 2010 Nurse of the Year.

Byrne was one of 14 nurses from various specialties across the state honored during an awards gala and banquet held Nov. 20 at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta. Byrne, who has been teaching at North Georgia since 2001, was honored in the area of education.

Byrne, who lives in Acworth, holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in nursing, specializing in nursing education. She has contributed to many publications, including textbooks and peer-reviewed journals.

Byrne, who has taught for 25 years, said she is proud to help address the nursing shortage by training more nursing educators. According to figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Georgia is expected to face a shortage of 37,700 registered nurses by 2020.

"Currently, 10 graduate students are teaching and mentoring hundreds of undergraduate students at multiple institutions, including North Georgia College & State University, Brenau University, Emory University, Kennesaw State University, and North Georgia Technical College. These graduate students will enable hundreds of students entry into practice. Therefore, my professional activities focus on the improvement of the nurse faculty shortage as well as the nursing shortage," Byrne said. "Throughout my career, I have received many cards and e-mails thanking me for my students’ success, preparedness, and happiness in their new role as teacher. That is a source of pride and the ultimate evidence of my success."

Earlier this year, Byrne also was awarded the Excellence in Education award from Sigma Theta, Tau Chapter.

Next week, nine students in the master's in nursing education program will be presenting their projects and celebrating their December graduation. The event is set to begin at 10 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 2 in room 137 of the Health and Natural Sciences Building. A luncheon reception will follow the presentations.

Founded in 1873 and located in Dahlonega, Ga., North Georgia College & State University is the second-oldest public institution of higher education in the state and currently has 6,000 students. The liberal arts university is designated by the University System of Georgia as a state leadership institution and by the Georgia General Assembly as The Military College of Georgia.