The Sentara School of Health Professions Graduates its First Distance Learning Nursing Students
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The Sentara School of Health Professions Graduates its First Distance Learning Nursing Students 

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CHESAPEAKE, VA. - June 15, 2009 -Nearly two years after launching its Distance Learning program for nursing students, the Sentara School of Health Professions is set to graduate its first distance learning registered nursing class.

 Recent Sentara School of Health Professions graduates celebrate their successful completion of the Distance Learning program for nursing. Pictured left to right: Anjali Desai, Sonia Pritchett, and Valerie Wallace.
In the fall of 2007, the School began offering its program on the peninsula via a distance learning site at the Old Dominion University Peninsula Higher Education Center in Hampton, Virginia. The classroom component of the RN program was broadcast live from the Sentara School of Health Professions. Students at ODU’s Peninsula Higher Education Center had the ability to interact real time with Sentara instructors and students at the School’s flagship location in the Greenbrier section of Chesapeake, Virginia.

Smaller class size and proximity were some of the promised benefits that appealed to distance learning students Sonia Pritchett and Anjali Desai, both peninsula residents, and Valerie Wallace from north Suffolk.

“I was able to work after class, pick my kids up from school, or get to any appointments I needed to make,” says Pritchett. “I was also able to get straight to my homework without losing time in traffic.”

These students also felt very supported by the faculty and staff at the Sentara School of Health Professions.

“It was apparent that Sentara School of Health Professions staff invested a lot of time and energy into making the Distance Learning program successful,” says Desai. “Everyone from Student Services to faculty to the school counselor was very willing and ready to support us.”

“The school staff have learned to manage the challenges of such a new and revolutionary program,” adds Wallace. “They have truly made every effort to think outside the box in order to meet our needs as a distance learning class.”

That support has paid off as the Sentara School of Health Professions celebrates its first distance learning graduating class of ten RN students.

A commitment to quality classroom and clinical experience.
Both the traditional and distance learning RN programs are 22 months in length and composed of lecture and skills laboratory experiences in addition to clinical experiences four to five days per week. While lecture and skills lab experiences are offered in the classroom setting, the hands-on clinical experiences are provided in facilities throughout the Sentara system. For peninsula students, that includes Sentara hospitals in Hampton and Williamsburg as well as opportunities to train at facilities on the south side.

“We strive to develop a curriculum that focuses on the knowledge and skills necessary to provide the highest quality care,” said Shelly Cohen, Director of the Sentara School of Health Professions. “Extending the reach of our program through distance learning allows us to offer more options to people who may live or work on the peninsula.”

Newport News resident Pritchett was happy to be able to complete her classroom requirements close to home, but also took advantage of learning opportunities in clinical settings throughout the Sentara System.

“I completed three clinical semesters outside of the peninsula facilities and I was glad,” says Pritchett. “I got a range of experience – from general nursing care in a community hospital setting at Sentara CarePlex Hospital to tertiary care at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.”

Wallace echoes that sentiment, “I found the clinical experience to be excellent, and in speaking with my peers from the other side of the water, to be no different than their experience.”

A proven track record.
The Sentara School of Health Professions has a proven track record in nursing education with an outstanding reputation for quality. In 2008, 90.2% of RN diploma students from the Sentara School of Health Professions passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, commonly referred to as NCLEX. Among other diploma programs, this places Sentara among the top two in the Commonwealth.

“Our goal as nursing educators, particularly in this time of true nursing shortage, is to continue implementing effective strategies to attract and educate greater numbers of talented people to this rewarding profession,” added Cohen. “We are proud of all of our programs and we are so pleased to be able to provide more people with access to our RN program.”


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