Press Releases

Webb, Warner and Boucher announce $1.2 million investment

In nursing, technological education in Southwest Virginia

Jul 30 2010

Consortium of schools includes Virginia Highlands, Southwest Virginia, Mountain Empire Community Colleges

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner today announced that a network of three community colleges will share a $1.2 million federal grant to provide nursing education in new technologies to nursing students in Southwest Virginia. Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC) in Abingdon is leading the consortium, called the Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program (VATNP), which also includes Southwest Virginia Community College (SVCC) and Mountain Empire Community College (MECC). The grant money will be used to strengthen the education and preparation of the nursing workforce in Southwest Virginia leading to higher quality care for the medically underserved population of the rural Appalachia.

“Health care is projected to generate more jobs than any other industry in the coming years, and VATNP’s training program will allow Virginia nurses to get the technological know-how they need to be competitive in the ever-evolving health field,” said Senator Webb. “We are making a smart investment in our workforce as well as strengthening access to quality health care for Virginia residents in the future."

“Consistent nursing shortages, combined with recent new investments in health IT, make this type of training very important,” Senator Warner said. “I am pleased our community colleges continue to step-up to look for opportunities to provide this important type of workforce training.”

“Currently, there is a high demand in Southwest Virginia for nursing professionals who have skills with new medical technologies and electronic health records. The federal funding announced today will address this need by expanding the opportunities available to Southwest Virginia students interested in pursuing a nursing career and preparing nursing students to handle the medical technologies of today. I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has provided this worthwhile investment in our region’s Tri-College Nursing program,” Rep. Boucher said.

Recent developments in the health IT field as well as the federal mandate for the implementation of electronic medical records have created urgency in nursing education reform. Due to the limits of local hospital capacity, nursing students in rural Virginia are sometimes unable to gain sufficient exposure to advanced medical technologies and procedures. The project will develop a technology-enriched curriculum to enhance educational opportunities for associate degree nursing students through the use of simulation activities, healthcare software applications, electronic handheld information devices, computers, and computer-assisted medication administration systems.

The grant is being awarded through the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration. For more information on the HRSA and its rural grant programs, please visit