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Nursing Programs Reorganize

to better meet growing regional nursing demand

Post Date:01/22/2020 9:15 AM

Kellie Crowe, PR & Marketing Coordinator, VHCC

VHCC Nursing Program - Coming Soon
ABINGDON, Va. - After four decades as a trio, the Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program (VATNP), comprised of Mountain Empire Community College, Southwest Virginia Community College, and Virginia Highlands Community College, will move forward as three independent, stand-alone nursing programs.

The new programs — to be renamed Mountain Empire Community College Nursing Program, Southwest Virginia Community College Nursing Program, and Virginia Highlands Community College Nursing Program — are anticipated to be effective May 2020.

“This decision has been many months in the making,” said Dr. Adam Hutchison, president of Virginia Highlands Community College. “We’re confident the reorganization will strengthen nursing at each of our colleges.”

Dr. Kristen Westover, president of Mountain Empire Community College, added, “The very same desire for excellence that led to the formation of the consortium is now leading to this new chapter of stand-alone programs.”

The three-college consortium was established in 1976.

“VATNP was initially developed to establish efficiencies of scale to ensure sufficient faculty, equipment, and resources at each of the colleges,” explained Dr. Tommy Wright, president of Southwest Virginia Community College. “Today, with growth in enrollment and improvements in instructional technology, we’re confident the decentralization will enable each of our three schools to better meet the growing regional and national demand for nurses while continuing our strong tradition of producing graduates known for professional and clinical excellence.”

Deborah Clarkston, MSN, RN, who serves as interim coordinator for VATNP, says the reorganization is projected to expand clinical opportunities for nursing students, closer to home.

“With more focused efforts within each respective community, we anticipate expanding our clinical sites,” said Clarkston. “This, alone, is a tremendous benefit to both our students and our healthcare community.”

Each of the college nursing programs will continue the rigorous education of nurses awarded an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. All three programs have requested approval by the Virginia Board of Nursing and accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). ACEN (3343 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 850, Atlanta, GA 30326) is the national accrediting agency for nursing education by the Council on Post-Secondary Accreditation (COPA) and by the US Department of Education.

“Our strong history of collaboration will continue to be a bedrock of strength for each of our programs,” said Westover said. “While operating separately, we’ll continue to be in close communication, working to better serve the needs of Southwest Virginia.”

According to Clarkston, the process will be seamless for all involved.

“Each college will continue to have the same instructors, and will continue to foster strong relationships with regional clinical partners,” said Clarkston. “Additionally, there will not be a change in curriculum content as all nursing programs within the Virginia Community College System use the same concept-based curriculum.”

Nursing students beginning in summer 2020 will graduate from the new nursing programs. Application dates and details maybe found on the website of each of the colleges.

For more information, please contact Deborah Clarkston at or 276-739-2439.

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