Bluefield College is taking its new nursing program further into southwest Virginia, thanks to a partnership with Mountain Empire Community College.
Leaders from both schools gathered at Mountain Empire recently to sign an articulation agreement that will bring Bluefield courses that lead to a baccalaureate degree in nursing to MECC’s Big Stone Gap, Virginia, campus.
“We are pleased and honored to sign this cooperative agreement with Mountain Empire Community College and look forward to working with (MECC) President (Scott) Hamilton to serve the people of southwest Virginia,” said BC’s Dr. Robert Shippey, vice president for academic affairs. “Through the support of generous funding from the Virginia Tobacco Commission, the college is committed to providing quality nursing education at the baccalaureate level through its RN-BSN degree completion program.”
The Mountain Empire agreement completes Bluefield College’s commitment to partner with all of the community colleges in the Appalachian Tri-college Nursing Program to bring its RN-to-BSN courses leading to a degree to the students and health care professionals of southwest Virginia. Since creating its new nursing program this past spring, BC has signed similar pacts with Southwest Virginia Community College in Richlands, Virginia, in March and Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, Virginia, in June in an effort to take the program to students and health care professional in rural communities beyond Bluefield and throughout southwest Virginia.
“We couldn’t do this without the help of our community colleges, like Mountain Empire,” said Bluefield College President David Olive. “We are grateful for their part in making this transformational program accessible to even more students.”
The MECC covenant, part of Bluefield College’s overall initiative to improve healthcare education and services in rural settings, combines Mountain Empire’s two-year associate’s degree in nursing with Bluefield’s four-year bachelor’s degree courses in nursing. The agreement allows any student who has completed an associate’s degree in nursing from MECC to enter the RN-to-BSN program at Bluefield College.
“We are very pleased to enter into this articulation agreement with Bluefield College, because it will be a great opportunity for our nursing graduates to complete a BSN without having to leave the area,” said Dr. Scott Hamilton, president of MECC. “This will be a great partnership that will benefit our students, MECC and Bluefield College and ultimately the medical providers in our district that hire our graduates.”
The RN-to-BSN program, under evaluation for accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, is designed to meet a critical need in southwest Virginia for baccalaureate nursing education. 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 nursing courses at Bluefield will be delivered primarily online 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.
“Building upon a strong foundation that the nurses have already received in their basic program, this transformational curriculum at Bluefield College will enable them to meet new challenges and elevate the level of healthcare in our rural communities of southwest Virginia,” said Dr. Lewis. “The healthcare needs of individuals, families and communities demand and deserve a high skilled nursing workforce that is prepared and equipped for the future with a quality delivery system.”
For more information about BSN nursing courses at MECC, VHCC, SVCC or the BC campus, contact the Bluefield College Admissions Office at 800-872-0175 (x4233) or 276-326-4233, or visit the BC web site at www.bluefield.edu/nursing.