Bluefield University in the News


by | May 20, 2011

Bluefield College has named a founding director for its new nursing program. Dr. Carolyn Keen Lewis, a nurse with more than 20 years of experience in health care service and education, has accepted the call to lead the school's inaugural registered nurse to bachelor's degree in nursing (RN-BSN) degree completion curriculum.

In an effort to meet a critical need in southwest Virginia for baccalaureate nursing education, Bluefield College launched a Rural Health Care Initiative in the fall of 2009 to provide a four-year BSN degree completion opportunity for local students and health care professionals. Partnering with community colleges and health care providers, the BSN program is designed to build on the region’s RN education by offering a baccalaureate degree to students seeking to serve, and those already serving, in health-related fields within their communities.

A native of Tazewell, Virginia, Dr. Lewis will come to Bluefield to lead this new RN-BSN program from Louisville, Kentucky, where since 2009 she has served as chair of Spalding University’s nursing education. During her tenure at Spalding, she planned and implemented nursing programs at the master’s, baccalaureate, and RN-BSN levels. She also secured substantial funding and key applications for those programs and was selected into the Louisville Healthcare Fellow Class for 2010. Now, she says, she is ready to launch a transformational nursing curriculum for Bluefield College.

“I feel privileged and blessed to have been chosen to lead and launch this transformational nursing curriculum,” said Dr. Lewis about her new calling at BC. “To me, this is a mission that overwhelms me with passion and love to return to my homeland roots and heritage in southwest Virginia. It is a great time in nursing, and as a member of the community and the Bluefield College team we will offer a personable touch to nursing higher education.”

Before Spalding, Dr. Lewis served four years as assistant dean of the Nursing Division at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington, Kentucky, where she managed nursing programs for medication nurse aide, mediation aide, licensed practical nursing, and registered nursing.

“Dr. Lewis brings a breadth of experience and insights to this position that are nothing short of heaven sent,” said Dr. Robert Shippey, BC’s vice president for academic affairs. “She is a skilled leader in organizational transformation, and her extensive background in formal education strategies and substantive knowledge of state and national policy planning will be a tremendous asset to our new nursing program.”

From 2000 to 2005, Dr. Lewis was an associate professor of nursing for the University of Kentucky, where she taught graduate nursing courses and assisted in refining and developing distance learning and continuing education programs. During that same time, she served as the executive director of UK’s Chandler Medical Center for Continuing Education, where she successfully implemented an entrepreneurial model of continuing education from an inter-professional perspective, one of just two in the United States that led the nation in continuing education in the health care arena.

From 1993 to 2000, Dr. Lewis worked as a program manager, then executive director for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in Washington, DC, a comprehensive credentialing organization committed to high quality nursing through innovative administration of board certification examinations for nurses in 34 specialty areas. As executive director, she was responsible for implementing cutting-edge program initiatives and creating strategic partnerships to further the ANCC’s goals.

“We are indeed blessed that Dr. Lewis is feeling called now to come and serve Bluefield College as we launch our new nursing program,” said BC President David Olive. “She is uniquely gifted to lead our healthcare initiative, and I believe God will use her skills and talents to touch, heal and transform countless individuals throughout southwest Virginia.”

Dr. Lewis has additional experience as principal of the PRINE Group for acute care facilities (2003-present), a staff nurse at Mount Vernon Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia (1991-1993), an instructor of nursing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia (1989-1991), and a management consultant for Maldon Health Care Management Corporation of Fargo, North Dakota (1988-1991).

She holds a Ph.D. in nursing administration and health policy from George Mason; a master’s degree in rural health and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville; and an associate’s degree in nursing from Germanna Community College in Locust Grove, Virginia.

In addition, she is the recipient of a gubernatorial appointment to the Kentucky Apprenticeship and Training Commission, a Pioneer Nursing Award from the Virginia Nurses Association, a Distinguished Alumna Award from George Mason University, and a Governor’s Commonwealth Fellow Award from the Virginia Council of Higher Education.

“Under the leadership of Dr. Lewis, Bluefield College is prepared to write a new chapter in its existence that I have no doubt will be filled with excellence and compassion,” said Dr. Shippey. “We stand poised to offer a quality impact on healthcare in rural southwest Virginia, and we remain appreciative of the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the Thompson Foundation for their initial funding and investment in this program.”

Dr. Lewis will begin her duties with Bluefield College on August 1. Instruction for the BSN under her guidance will be delivered through the college’s InSpire degree completion program, a convenient, accelerated degree completion curriculum designed to allow a working adult with prior college credit the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree in as little as 13 months. Weekly classes to cohorts of at least 10 students will be offered first on the campus of Southwest Virginia Community College in Richlands, Virginia, and at the Booth Center in Grundy, Virginia, using flexible delivery modes, including traditional on-site teaching and limited distance learning technologies.

“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. This opportunity is the highlight of my entire nursing career.”

For more information about the RN-BSN program, contact the Bluefield College Admissions Office by phone at 800-872-0175 or by email at [email protected], or visit the RN-BSN web pages on the BC web site.

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