#29 of 30in30: Community college nurses are at the top of their class

Educating the nurses that will care for a commonwealth


A class of nurses graduates at JSRCC

Community colleges play a key role in meeting the national shortage of nurses and other allied health professionals.

Across the country, associate degree programs in nursing educate nearly 57 percent of Registered Nurses, according to the American Association of Community Colleges, and nearly 90 percent of licensed practical nurses.

In Virginia, nursing is still #1 when it comes to the “Hot Jobs” forecast in the Virginia Education Wizard. That measure shows that nearly 700 additional nurses will be needed in Virginia above and beyond the current projected supply.

What is it?

Virginia’s Community Colleges have been working hard to graduate more nurses ever since a 2005 Task Force report highlighted the issue, by improving retention and graduation and focusing on eliminating barriers to completion. Enrollment in associate degree RN programs has increased nearly 20 percent since 2002, and graduates have increased 30 percent from 2003-04.

Where is it offered?

Nearly all of Virginia’s Community Colleges – 21 out of 23 – offer an associate degree in nursing.  Practical nursing programs are also available at a number of community colleges, along with a host of additional allied health fields. The newest program is at Danville Community College - which graduated its first nurses in 2010-11.

Virginia’s Community Colleges have creative partnerships with hospitals that help to provide instructors, equipment and even entire buildings. A number of colleges work with the health care facilities in their areas to provide needed equipment and faculty.

Johnston Memorial Hospital works with Virginia Highlands Community College to support nursing education programs, and was recently named VHCC’s Leader in Philanthropy for 2012.


CJW provides space for nursing classes on the campus of Johnston Willis Hospital

Through another such partnership, CJW Medical Center generously donated building space to John Tyler Community College, allowing the college to expand its nursing program and to create a Nursing Education Center on the campus of Johnston Willis Hospital in Chesterfield County.

Who does it help?

Graduating qualified nurses meets critical needs both in the commonwealth and in the nation. Our nation’s health depends on it! Our colleges fulfill a critical need in staffing Virginia’s hospitals, doctor’s officers, and other medical facilities.

What does the future hold?

Virginia’s Community Colleges continue to seek ways to meet the nursing and allied health care needs of Virginia. Colleges continue to adopt new strategies to improve student persistence, including advising and tutoring, scholarship awareness, and more simulation experiences. With continued partnerships with the health care community, the commonwealth’s needs will be met.


Editor’s Note: 30 Ways in 30 Days Virginia’s Community Colleges are Elevating Virginia is a month-long blog series dedicated to exploring some of the many creative and inspiring ways our colleges are helping people find and create opportunity. The series is part of the VCCS tribute to National Community College Month. To read more of the series just click on the “30 ways in 30 days” category.

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