Taking Action

VCU, JTCC working to address critical shortage of qualified nurses

Taking Action

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University and John Tyler Community College are teaming up to get more qualified nurses out of the classroom and into hospitals and doctor’s offices faster.

VCU will be offering an accelerated bachelor’s program to John Tyler CC’s nursing students. It’s good news for Victoria Christman, a nursing student at John Tyler.

“I always wanted to be a nurse,” she explained.

Christman got hooked into health care after her uncle was diagnosed with a devastating illness at a young age.

“He had the most amazing nurses and physicians that made the situation feel a lot better than it was,” Christman told 8News. “I would like to bring that to families and patients.”

To achieve her goal, Christman will eventually need more than an associate’s degree says Diane Siner, who was a pediatric nurse for years and is now an assistant professor at John Tyler.

“Most employers desire for their RN’s to get their baccalaureate degree,” Siner said.

The accelerated bachelor’s program about to be offered by VCU to John Tyler’s nursing students will help with that says Jean Giddens, Dean of the School of Nursing at VCU.

“It will reduce the amount of time that it will require for them to graduate,” Giddens told 8News. “They can take those courses online which will make it easier for them to complete that work.”

Students will be able to take the courses online while completing the final year of their nursing degree at John Tyler CC. 

“It does contribute to a more educated workforce,” Giddens explained.

The partnership is an effort to address a nationwide shortage of nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates by 2022 there will be a nationwide deficit of 1.1 million nurses. Researchers have found a lack of nurses can lead to longer emergency room waits, medical mistakes and deaths.

“We have ongoing needs for more nurses in Central Virginia and across the country,” Giddens said.

The Virginia Nurses Association says retiring registered nurses in the commonwealth are exceeding the number of RN’s entering the workforce. Other contributing factors are there’s more demand for nurses as baby boomer’s age and the health care system is expanding.

“They are moving a lot of the health care to the community setting, the home settings. So, they need lots more nurses to be caring for those patients,” Siner told 8News. “If there are not enough nurses on the floor taking care of their patients than safety is going to suffer.”

A shortage of qualified nurses is serious.

“If there are not enough nurses on the floor taking care of their patients than safety is going to suffer,” said Siner. “Patient satisfaction is going to suffer.”

However, this new partnership between VCU and John Tyler is a step towards filling the gap.

“It’s all online so if you’re a busy mom, you have some other stuff going on you have a career, it makes it a lot easier, more obtainable,” Christman said.

The new program opens for applications May 1. Students can complete as many as four courses, which is equal to one academic year, in the online RN to B.S. program at VCU while completing the final year of their nursing degree at John Tyler. These offerings are in addition to the VCU School of Nursing’s guaranteed admission program for Virginia Community College System graduates, including those from JTCC, who meet certain requirements.

VCU first offered this co-enrollment option to students at Southside Virginia Community College and Rappahannock Community College. The first students in that program began classes in fall 2019.



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