Nursing students at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College will be able to earn bachelors and master’s degrees through a new partnership with George Washington University in Washington DC.
The program will kick off in the fall with about 10 students, but the expectation is for it to grow to over 100 students in three years, said Jean Johnson, the dean of the GW School of Nursing.
Students will take online classes but will complete clinical work at practices in and around the Clifton Forge area.
The partnership is being hailed as a way to meet the needs for primary care workers, especial in underserved areas of rural Virginia.
“This innovative public-private partnership directly addresses Governor [Bob] McDonnell’s call for more Virginians earning degrees, particularly in high demand fields like health care,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornash, in a news release announcing the partnership. “Ensuring underserved communities receive the medical care they need is important to the health of our communities as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia. This partnership represents a firm commitment from two schools of excellence and one we hope will serve as a model for the rest of the state and the country.”
Currently the community college offers a two-year associate degree in nursing.
The new program will allow those students who have earned their associate degree to then enroll in the GW master’s program. Students may exit the program halfway through with a bachelor of science in nursing degree.
The program aims to train the nurses either as family nurse practitioners or in midwifery.
In developing the partnership, no financial arrangement was made between the two schools, Johnson said. Students will pay the community college tuition for any pre-requisite work and then pay GW tuition for the bachelors and master’s degrees, she said.
“We have been and will continue to find funds to help with scholarships and will be able to fund a number of scholarships for the coming year,” Johnson said.