Bluefield College is taking its new nursing program further into southwest Virginia, thanks to a partnership with Virginia Highlands Community College.
Leaders from both schools gathered at VHCC recently to sign an articulation agreement that will bring BC’s baccalaureate degree in nursing program to VHCC’s Abingdon, Virginia, campus and to even more students and health care professionals in southwest Virginia.
The Virginia Highlands agreement is the second such partnership Bluefield College has crafted since announcing the creation of its new nursing program just months ago. In an effort to take the program to students and health care professional in rural communities beyond Bluefield and throughout southwest Virginia, BC inked a similar agreement with Southwest Virginia Community College in March 2011.
“We couldn’t do this without the help of our community colleges, like Virginia Highlands,” said Bluefield College President David Olive about the expansion of BC’s new nursing program to yet another southwest Virginia site. “We are grateful for their part in making this transformational degree accessible to even more students.”
The VHCC covenant, which combines Virginia Highlands’ two-year associate of applied science degree in nursing with Bluefield’s bachelor of science in nursing, came about as part of an initiative to improve healthcare services in rural settings, said VHCC President Ron Proffitt, adding that it also will help to achieve a national goal of increasing the number of registered nurses with four-year degrees.
“We’re excited that Bluefield College will offer the bachelor’s program, which will supplement the excellent nursing program that VHCC has offered for nearly four decades,” he said. “We’re confident that student nurses and those who receive healthcare services throughout our region will benefit from the expanded educational opportunities that will be available through this partnership.
VHCC has offered its two-year associate of applied science degree in nursing since 1972. The program includes both classroom lectures and clinical assignments completed in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Graduates are eligible to take the national exam that leads to licensure as a registered nurse (RN).
The partnership with Bluefield College will allow those with two-year nursing degrees to continue working toward a four-year bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN). The classes will be offered at VHCC on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays, beginning in the fall of 2012. A faculty member from Bluefield College will teach the classes in Abingdon.
“The additional two years of study will focus heavily on liberal arts courses, leadership development, and community and public health,” said Kathy Mitchell, dean of nursing and allied health at VHCC. “As a result, students who complete the BSN program will be better prepared to take leadership roles in healthcare settings and make critical decisions related to patient care.”
The RN-to-BSN program, the school officials added, is designed to meet a critical need in southwest Virginia for baccalaureate nursing education. In addition, they said, the BSN is a valuable stepping-stone toward advanced degrees for those interested in pursuing careers as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, or other specialized nursing fields that require master’s degrees.
“This RN-to-BSN program has the potential to significantly improve the quality of health care in southwest Virginia,” said Dr. Olive. “Not only does it provide an opportunity for nursing education at the baccalaureate level, but also gives students and health care professionals of southwest Virginia who value rural health care delivery the opportunity to stay in our region.”
Under the direction of Dr. Carolyn Keen Lewis, a Tazewell, Virginia, native and a nurse with more than 20 years of experience in health care service and education, instruction for the bachelor’s degree in nursing will be delivered through BC’s inSPIRE degree-completion program, a convenient, accelerated degree-completion program designed to allow a working adult with prior college credit the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree in as little as 13 months. Classes will be offered on the VHCC campus in Abingdon and SWCC campuses in Richlands and Grundy, Virginia, using flexible delivery modes, including traditional on-site teaching and limited distance learning technologies.
Bluefield College will hold informational sessions on the VHCC campus in the near future to provide details about the program and the enrollment process. Those interested may contact the Bluefield College Admissions Office at [email protected], or visit the BC web site at www.bluefield.edu/nursing.