South Boston, VA—The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center recently hosted a site visit with Lorener Brayboy, LCSW and Kim Evans, JD, MHS with the federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), and Keisha Smith, executive director of the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority (VHWDA). HRSA is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and funds the SVHEC’s Area Health Education Center (SVHEC-AHEC). SVHEC-AHEC serves a large region of 15 counties and 3 cities that stretches to Buckingham County in the north and Emporia in the east.hrsa birthingmanikin

During the visit, Brayboy, Evans, and Smith met with members of the SVHEC Leadership team and SVHEC-AHEC staff to learn more about the SVHEC and its successful AHEC program. Dr. Betty Adams, SVHEC executive director, provided an overview of the Center, its history, and programs, and expressed her thanks to the HRSA and VHWDA representatives for their support of the SVHEC-AHEC.

Dr. Nettie Simon Owens, SVHEC Chief Economic Advancement Officer, provided a brief presentation on the regional nursing shortage that led to the development of the Center of Nursing Excellence in 2007. Following presentations, Brayboy, Evans, and Smith were given tours of the Center of Nursing Excellence’s Simulation Lab and the SVHEC’s Innovation Center. The visit concluded with a roundtable discussion with representatives from Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, Southside Virginia Community College, and SVHEC Executive Leadership.

”Our HRSA project officers have seen reports documenting the successful health professions outreach and educational support initiatives at SVHEC,” said Ann Switzer, associate director of the Center of Nursing Excellence. “This visit allowed us to demonstrate the SVHEC commitment to the health professions workforce with a hands-on tour of our CNE clinical training facilities, and turnout of the entire SVHEC leadership team to discuss our commitment to the AHEC mission,” she continued.  

About the SVHEC-AHEC Program

The Virginia AHEC Program is a federally funded initiative that aims to: (1) educate and train students to become culturally competent primary care health professionals who will provide healthcare in underserved areas and to health disparity populations; (2) increase the number and variety of primary care health professionals who provide care to underserved populations in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and other medically underserved areas; and (3) recruit into health careers individuals from underrepresented minority populations or from disadvantaged or rural backgrounds. AHEC goals are aligned with the SVHEC’s mission to advance Southern Virginia’s economic potential through education, innovation, and collaboration.

chastainhomesimulation1Considering a nursing educational and career pathway? Interested in a rewarding career near home?  Hoping to complete educational requirements and licensure without leaving Southern Virginia?  Nursing is a great choice!  Nursing students across the region are taking classes at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC), in partnership with Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) and Danville Community College (DCC). Find a multitude of resources to guide your local nursing journey at www.svhec.org/healthcareers.
 
Careers within the nursing continuum, including Nurse Aide, Practical Nurse, and Registered Nurse, by far represent the largest number and percentage of healthcare jobs in Southern Virginia. Local nurse employers have openings now, and projected demand for new nurses will continue to grow as baby boomer nurses retire and nursing roles expand.

NursingStudentsinCNEOn May 24, 2016, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Area Health Education Center (SVHEC-AHEC) was awarded a $125,000 grant from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC). Grant funds will be used to combat the regional nursing shortage by recruiting students into nursing education programs.

“SVHEC appreciates the opportunity to leverage Tobacco Commission funds with the Center’s AHEC resources to focus on a critical shortage of healthcare workers in the region,” said Dr. Betty H. Adams, SVHEC Executive Director. “We will work hand in hand with our educational partners and regional healthcare providers to increase student enrollment numbers in the exceptional community college and university programs offered across the region.”

Despite strong demand for nurses, current nursing program enrollment levels are not yielding enough nurses to fill open positions. Regional hospitals are facing a critical shortage of workers to fill open positions, and this trend is expected to continue.

According to Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital (SHRH) Chief Executive Officer Chris Lumsden, “SHRH relies on its excellent staff to meet the mission of improving health, and the nursing professionals Sentara employs are critical to this endeavor. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified candidates to fill nursing positions in our organization.”

The SVHEC AHEC focuses on recruiting middle and high school students and adults to healthcare education programs, and works closely with regional education partners who offer those programs. With the TRRC grant funds, SVHEC AHEC staff will develop and implement additional, intensive recruitment strategies to attract students from the region into Associate Degree Nursing (ADN), Practical Nursing, and Nurse Aide programs offered by SVHEC partners Danville and Southside Virginia Community Colleges.

“The intervention at this stage is critical to alleviating the shortage of available nurses in our region. Without ensuring a robust pipeline of qualified students, we cannot expect an adequate pool of qualified nurses,” said W. Scott Burnette, Chief Executive Officer at VCU Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill, VA. According to Burnette, VCU CMH expects to hire 12-15 nurses in the next two years as they bring the new hospital facility on line.

“In the first year of operations, SVHEC AHEC recruitment efforts have already reached over 800 Southside Virginians. With this award, we'll be able to have even greater impact,” said Ann Switzer, SVHEC Associate Director of the Center of Nursing Excellence and AHEC program. With an increased number of nursing students regional healthcare facilities will have a richer pipeline to fill current and future workforce needs.

“Educational capacity exists, jobs exist, but student enrollment is not meeting demand. We have to find a way to recruit more of our young people into the healthcare pipeline. Our quality of life depends on it,” Adams said.

About the SVHEC-AHEC Program:

The Virginia AHEC Program is a federally funded initiative that aims to: (1) educate and train students to become culturally competent primary care health professionals who will provide healthcare in underserved areas and to health disparity populations; (2) increase the number and variety of primary care health professionals who provide care to underserved populations in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and other medically underserved areas; and (3) recruit into health careers individuals from underrepresented minority populations or from disadvantaged or rural backgrounds. AHEC goals are aligned with the SVHEC’s mission to advance Southern Virginia’s economic potential through education, innovation, and collaboration.

The Virginia AHEC Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration Grant (#U77HP26289) for $815,999 (FY14). For more information on the AHEC at SVHEC, contact Ann Switzer 434-572-5443, toll-free 1-800-283-0098 ext 5443, or email annswitzer@svhec.org.

 CNE & AHEC staff

Seated (l-r): Ann Switzer, Associate Director of the Center of Nursing Excellence (SVHEC); Erin Wittwer, Interim Executive Director (Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority) Standing (l-r): Chantel Brown, Administrative Support Specialist (SVHEC); Brenda Terry, Accounting Manager (SVHEC); Catherine Stevens, Institutional Effectiveness Specialist (SVHEC); Dr. Janet McDaniel, Evaluation Director(Virginia AHEC Program); Linda Bohannon, Grant & Fiscal Administrator (VA Health Workforce Development Authority); Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens, Director of Workforce Services (SVHEC) 

 AHEC designation will expand healthcare education and training opportunities to 15 counties and 3 cities.

Virginia Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program, as part of the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority (VHWDA), is pleased to announce a partnership with the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) to support an Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Through the Center of Nursing Excellence, the SVHEC will serve a vast AHEC region of 15 counties and three cities that extends to Danville in the west, Petersburg in the north, and Emporia in the east.

Ann Switzer, MSN, RN, and SVHEC Center of Nursing Excellence Associate Director, will serve as Southern Virginia AHEC Director. “The Center of Nursing Excellence already supports AHEC goals as a learning resource center for healthcare professions. We plan to build on our network of healthcare stakeholders throughout Southern Virginia to expand and coordinate healthcare education and training opportunities for our healthcare workforce. We will also initiate healthcare occupations recruitment efforts among high school students and non-traditional students throughout our rural, medically underserved region,” said Switzer.