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Photo of Telehealth Training in session. The image shows training attendees with the instructor at the front of the room.On July 17th, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Area Health Education Center (SVHEC-AHEC) hosted a free Foundations of Telehealth workshop and hands-on lab.

Nurse Aide students practice giving a patient in a hospital bed a bathEnrollment is now open for Southside Virginia Community College’s (SVCC) Nurse Aide Certification Program in South Boston, VA. Classes are scheduled to begin on February 11th, and meet at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.

“CNAs are in such high demand,” said nurse aide instructor Brandi Thompson. “I have people from different organizations asking when I’ll have my next class, and if they can come meet the students. There is a huge need for CNAs in the workforce,” she continued.

While many think Nurse Aides are only found in long-term care facilities, the reality is that CNAs work in a number of healthcare environments including hospitals, home healthcare, dialysis treatment facilities, assisted living facilities, and in cardiac units as cardiac technicians.

In addition, becoming a Nurse Aide is often the first step towards becoming a practical or registered nurse. “Many of my students have worked other jobs, but they see this can be a career for them. I started as a CNA, and I know it can definitely lead to bigger things,” said Thompson.

Nurse Aide classes meet at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) three or four days per week, for about five hours per day. The entire program, including clinical rotations at area medical facilities, takes less than 10 weeks to complete. Because the SVHEC is a PearsonVue Testing Center, Nurse Aide students take their state board exams onsite.

“The cost of the state board exam is included in the course fee, and thanks to the SVHEC students don’t have to travel to take their boards. It’s a great benefit to the students in South Boston,” Thompson said.

Individuals interested in SVCC’s upcoming Nurse Aide Certification Program should contact Kathy Whitt at 434-572-5453 or email


High school students tour Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital during the Experience Nursing event.SVHEC-Area Health Education Center recently partnered with Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital to offer a nursing experience for high school students.

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
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.