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The New ABCs of Medical School: Anatomy, Biochemistry, and Cooking

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High-Value Care Increasingly Becoming Core Part of Med School Curriculum

High-value care has been added to curricula for many aspiring physicians

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New program trains practical nurses

The first class in South Central Area Health Education Center’s practical nursing school is past the halfway point of the 15-month program.

Eleven students from Lynchburg to Danville and around the Altavista/Hurt area are eyeing graduation on Aug. 24 and then taking their state licensing exam. Classes started in May 2011.
“I feel we are very blessed to have a school of practical nursing in a rural area,” said Regina Kennedy, executive director of the school, located in the English Construction building in Hurt. She said schools are typically in more urban areas.
The school of practical nursing is one of several programs offered at South Central Area Health Education Center, which started in 1993. Coincidentally, it opened in the English Construction building, relocated to Altavista and returned to the same building in 2010.
The center also has an eight-week nurse aide certificate program, which has graduated more than 600 since starting in 2003. It offers an as-needed medication aide certificate class, along with training in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation for churches, businesses and groups in the community. The school also provides instruction in using an automated defibrillator.
The practical nursing program includes lecture and clinical work at the Hurt site and at nursing homes, hospitals and day care centers in the area.
When a student graduates and passes the exam to be a licensed practical nurse, she is able to work in nursing homes, doctor offices, some hospitals and assisted living centers. Duties include giving all medications, taking vital signs and assessing patients.
“They can work just about anywhere they want,” said Mary Williamson, director of the practical nursing program. She said their licenses will be good in several states.
She said graduates who pass the licensing exam won’t have a problem getting a job. She said nurses are always needed to do bedside care.
Williamson said being a licensed practical nurse is also a step towards becoming a registered nurse. That was the path Williamson followed.
Tanya Pritchett said she got into the South Central program because she could complete the work in 15 months and there were no prerequisites. From Dry Fork in Pittsylvania County, she was a receptionist at Chatham Family Medical Center.
“I just like helping people. It was a great opportunity to advance my career.” Pritchett plans to take the next step and become a registered nurse.
Shannon Worley liked that the program was close to home. She lives in Hurt.
Worley said she had wanted to be a nurse for a long time. She felt she could handle the 15 months and still take care of her three children.
“It’s a sacrifice when you have a family and you’re not working full-time. But it’s worth it in the end,” Pritchett said.

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posted in: National, news, Employer News, Virginia
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Rx for nursing programs

Five years ago, as the state faced an impending shortage of nurses, Radford University doubled the size of its nursing program.

Radford wasn’t alone: Schools across Virginia responded to a push from the state to expand their nursing programs, and overall admissions to nursing schools have more than doubled since 2003, according to the Virginia Department of Health Professions.

Then the recession hit, leaving new nurses struggling to find jobs as hiring slowed.

Nursing school administrators found themselves in a balancing act between meeting the needs of current students who were trying to get hired and preparing to meet the looming workforce demands.

It’s in that context that Radford decided to take the unusual step of reducing the size of its largest nursing program while continuing to emphasize an advanced degree nursing program the school created two years ago.

Radford isn’t alone in reshaping the role it intends to play in educating the nursing workforce of the future. Across Southwest Virginia, nursing programs have made conscious choices about the type of nurse they want to educate as they carve out a place for themselves and work with employers to determine exactly what needs are on the horizon.

“I think they are doing a better job at the schools getting them ready to meet our needs,” said Pam Hardesty, chief nursing officer at LewisGale Regional Health System. “I find the new nurses coming out, I’m very encouraged by them. They are incredible. I’m very encouraged for the future. I think we are producing some excellent nurses in the nursing schools and that we have excellent schools here.”

The learning experience

Radford’s decision to lower enrollment in its bachelor of science in nursing program by about 20 slots wasn’t a response to the recent hiring slump, said Kim Carter, director of the Radford University School of Nursing.

Instead, the decision was a faculty-driven effort to ensure that Radford uses its resource to best prepare its students for the changing world of nursing.

Specifically, Radford faculty wanted a lower student-teacher ratio for its bachelor degree program, Carter said.

“In nursing, we have to think about patient safety and we have to think about the learning experience for the student,” she said. “This is about patient safety. The patients are so much sicker on the hospital unit than in the past and the faculty need more time with the students.”

The decision will not affect Radford’s Roanoke program, where about 100 students are enrolled. The drop will occur at the main Radford campus, where about 160 slots currently exist.

Even as Radford plans to decrease enrollment, the university has focused on creating a doctorate nursing program. The move is a response to the need for more highly trained nurses who can be leaders in clinical settings, Carter said.

Two years ago, Radford started the region’s first doctor of nursing practice program. There are 47 students enrolled, with plans to admit another 25.

Similarly, Jefferson College of Health Sciences has made some decisions about the direction of its nursing program that have resulted in changes to the student population.

In 2010, Jefferson College ended its associates degree program, but it also chose to expand its bachelor of science in nursing program. It added a new program designed to attract students who already have earned a bachelor’s degree in another area and now want a nursing career.

Twenty-five students are enrolled in the fast-track, 16-month program, said Ava Porter, chairwoman of the college’s nursing department.

“I have big plans down the road for enlarging the program,” she said.

Meanwhile, this fall Virginia Western Community College will increase its class size for its associates degree in nursing program from 75 to 100 students.

“We have a tremendous demand from students,” said Tresia Samani, vice president for academic and student affairs at Virginia Western.

After Jefferson College stopped offering the associate’s degree, the community college became the only place in the Roanoke Valley to earn the two-year degree toward being a licensed registered nurse, Samani said.

The job market

Even as nursing programs have adapted to meet the demands of the health care industry, there have been obstacles in the job market.

“Employment rates are down a little,” Carter said. “That won’t last. The jobs will be back up soon.”

Both Carter and Samani said they have seen the availability of jobs improve recently.

“I don’t think we’re in a soft job market now — I think we may just be coming out of it,” Samani said.

Both Carilion and LewisGale, two of the biggest employers of new nurses in the region, said that the recession did mean fewer jobs.

Recently, however, Carilion has picked up its hiring of new nursing graduates, with a 17 percent increase in new hires from 2010 to 2011. Last year Carilion hired about 100 new nursing graduates and LewisGale hired 35.

At LewisGale, the vacancy rate for nurses is below 5 percent.

“It’s very low,” said LewisGale’s Hardesty. “But I do think there will be jobs. †I have no doubt the shortage is going to rear its ugly head again.”

It has meant greater competition among graduates for jobs and has allowed employers to be selective.

It also has required nursing students to learn, like other job seekers, how to stand out.

“A lot of people screen themselves out because they don’t take the time to fill out the application,” said Debbie Lovelace, senior director of human resources at Carilion. “You need to compete for a nursing job just like any other position.”

Gone are the days when a graduate leaves school with a job in hand before even sitting for the registered nurse licensing exam.

At Radford, it used to be that 98 percent of graduates had a job the day they received their degrees. Today, that has dropped to about 30 percent, Carter said.

At Virginia Western the changing marketplace has led to a focus on teaching students about interviewing and job hunting.

“We have had to remind students that you don’t go to an interview in flip flops and a T-shirt. †We have worked on interviewing,” said Sharon Morfesi, the nursing program head at Virginia Western.

For Kelli Loftus of Roanoke County, finding a job was about old-fashioned networking.

Loftus, 41, said being an older graduate may have helped her understand how to approach finding the job she wanted.

“I had to be face to face with the people I wanted to work for,” she said. “I think some of the younger generations are so used to sending out emails that they forget to make the connection and say, ‘Hey this is me. I really want to work here and this is why you should hire me.’ “

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posted in: National, news, Employer News, Virginia
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Charlotte Co. Nursing Home Expanding, Bringing Jobs

A Charlotte County nursing home has announced it will expand, and about 30 jobs will soon come to the area.

The Wayland Nursing and Rehabilitation facility will go from 60 to 90 beds when a new rehabilitation wing is built in about a year.

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posted in: JobAlert, Virginia
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Future Jobs: Home health care is top job prospect in NRV

It’s the fastest growing industry in Virginia and as the baby boomer generation gets older, jobs are going to skyrocket.

They help give peace of mind and allow patients to remain as independent as possible; home health aides are certified nursing assistants-- not quite registered nurses, but the care they provide is just as important. 

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posted in: Virginia
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AORN Announces Legislative Priorities for 2011

The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, (AORN), with a membership base of 40,000 RNs and representing the interests of 140,000 perioperative Registered Nurses in the U.S., has announced it will target seven states in 2011 to enact RN as Circulator. The perioperative RN, through professional and patient-centered expertise, is the primary patient advocate in the operating room and is responsible for monitoring all aspects of the patient’s condition. The presence of the RN in the circulating role throughout each surgical procedure is essential for timely delivery of quality surgical care and optimal patient outcomes.
The seven targeted states, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia, were identified following an interview-based survey of hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers by the AORN Advocacy leaders. Many of these states indicated a strong desire to assure patient safety through the use of an RN circulator for each patient during each surgery. 

posted in: Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia
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Virginia Hospital Center

Top Notch Care and Ongoing Professional Development

At Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), employees are the force behind the hospital’s prominent status in the healthcare industry. The hospital offers a broad array of positions and career opportunities.

“At Virginia Hospital Center, we have both dedicated surgeons and the technology to complement their expertise,” said VHC Public Relations Director Kristen Dugan.

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posted in: Interviewing, JobAlert, news, Employer News, Virginia
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Opening Doors to Undergraduate Nursing Research

At the University of Virginia, two summer programs exposed both undergraduate nursing students and recent graduates to important research programs. 

Nursing students receive some exposure to research in a required third-year course, but the Nursing Undergraduate Research Initiative and the Rural Health Care Research Summer Internship Program allow them to participate in research that seeks to prevent illness, improve clinical practice and influence health policy.

The initiative, funded through a grant from the U.Va. Alumni Association’s Jefferson Trust, is supporting four summer research students in 2010. The program is designed to create a four-year experience that progressively exposes students to nursing research, sparks their spirit of inquiry and encourages pursuit of evidence-based practice.

In addition, Elizabeth Merwin – associate dean for research, director of the Rural Health Care Research Center and Madge M. Jones Professor of Nursing – obtained funding from National Institutes of Health for the Rural Health Care Research Summer Internship Program. This year, 15 students and approximately 15 faculty members participated in the program with a broad variety of research studies.

Two recent nursing graduates used the opportunity to complete their distinguished major projects and move toward publishing their findings.

The Nursing Undergraduate Research Initiative: Inspiring Student Scholars

Theresa Carroll, assistant dean for undergraduate admissions and student services, and associate professors Emily Drake and Sarah Farrell designed the research initiative, which includes mentoring, roundtables and financial support for summer research. Second-year student Samantha Hudgins heard of the initiative through a class announcement. Keen to do research, she was able to participate because it was a paid internship.

She worked with Drake and doctor of nursing practice student Sharon Corriveau on a prenatal education study aimed at increasing the rates of breastfeeding among low-income women. The two-year project involved researchers from U.Va. and Virginia Commonwealth University in a randomized clinical trial testing a prenatal video education tool.

“It’s great to be doing research as an undergraduate,” said Hudgins, whose growing interest in maternal and child health extends to a global context. “This is so important to the Third World.”

Likewise, third-year student Kimberly Prosser was thrilled to participate, since she sees nursing as underrepresented in research.

“The public doesn’t see that side of nursing – the scientific knowledge,” Prosser said. “The ability to synthesize information is an important skill for clinicians as well as researchers.”

Working with graduate student Jamela Martin and associate professor Kathryn Laughon, Prosser helped conduct focus groups of battered women with the goal of developing a brochure aimed at reducing both the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and intimate partner violence among women identified as being at risk.

A rising second-year student, Eliza Peak returned from a public health course in Guatemala just in time to plunge into her summer research with Farrell and nursing instructor Elke Zschaebitz. The study focused on using telemedicine technology to address cervical and breast cancer issues among rural Southwest Virginia women.

The Rural Health Care Research Summer Internship Program: Involving a Diversity of Students and Projects

The Rural Health Care Research Summer Internship Program offers research partnerships between seasoned researchers and a broad mixture of students from the School of Nursing, other U.Va. schools and outside universities.

Nursing students Di Umoh and Chantal Nizam worked with faculty teams on interrelated diabetes studies that looked at cultural issues interwoven with data studies.

Umoh worked with investigators to test a new approach to diabetes self-management among African-Americans in rural areas. She updated background literature and transcribed audiotapes from weekly group sessions held in rural Louisa County.

“The students bring unique and interesting questions and help us to see our project in new ways,” said associate professor Sharon Utz, one of Umoh’s mentors. “Their backgrounds and experiences add to the richness of the team and our understanding of the clinical problems we study.”

Umoh saw the experience as an important one for students. “As nursing students, we often fail to acknowledge just how crucial research is to our practice,” she said.

Nizam, a rising third-year nursing student, participated in a study in the Grand Bahamas under the guidance of assistant professors Ishan Williams and Kathryn Reid. The project focused on enhancing collaboration in rural international research, while addressing the global need for diabetes self-management training.

Nizam helped gather data and organize materials to help meet the grant’s short timeline. She said she valued the introduction to research methodology and seeing its potential impact on clinical practice.

For Williams and Reid, Nizam’s assistance was critical. They see the program as useful for grooming new scholars. “This program clearly puts undergraduates into research,” Williams said, “which is a great path for encouraging new graduate students, especially in nursing.”

For May nursing graduates Michelle Dorsey and Katy Bagley, the summer program offered a chance to take their distinguished major projects to fruition and professional publication.

Dorsey, the school’s first winner of a University-wide Harrison Undergraduate Research Award, worked with Merwin and assistant professor Mary Gibson to complete her own research on the strengths and weaknesses of rural prenatal health care, a step toward her intended career of combining clinical practice and research.

Bagley’s rural research is more personal. With family in southwest Virginia and eastern Tennessee, her distinguished major project was inspired by a culture and health care class taught by assistant professor Audrey Snyder and by her experience at the annual Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise.

Bagley studied patient satisfaction with the RAM Clinic, the factors that determined whether or not a patient would return the following year, and the patients’ ongoing use of community health resources.

With one manuscript ready to submit to journals, Bagley expects this summer’s follow-up study to result in a second paper. It will also provide insights to improve patient experiences and access to RAM and to assist local community health providers.

“The Rural Health Care Research Summer Internship Program has been a tremendous success for the school,” Merwin said, “and I sincerely hope we can find a way to sustain it.

“Through these experiences, students learn that they don’t have to make a choice between clinical practice and research. They can combine both. The research can become a foundation for their entire career. It will likely influence some to pursue graduate school and doctoral education.”Read Full Article

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UVA Health System is Hiring RNs

A Magnet-designated academic medical center in one of the most livable US cities, Charlottesville, VA

There are many reasons you already know UVA Health System. We’re a Magnet-designated academic medical center. Our people utilize emerging technology and lead experimental treatment protocols. In fact, our healthcare makes headlines routinely.

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posted in: Virginia
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