Averett University's nursing program receives national accreditation

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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) Averett University has finally received national accreditation for its nursing program.

Leaders say they have built the program from the ground up.

It started three and a half years ago and the program now has about 100 students.

Leaders hope that number will grow and help provide the next step for those in the nursing programs at local community colleges.

Leaders say this will help support the medical needs of the area and produce more graduates with four-year college degrees.

"We need more educated people in this region. This is a great way for somebody to come back to school. We are seeing people who have different careers, they are in business now, they're in teaching and they want to be a nurse," Averett University Vice President for Institutional Advancement Buddy Rawley said.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education awarded the program the maximum term, a five year accreditation.

The program provides two tracks for students looking to get a bachelor of science in nursing degree.

Averett leaders say now they will be working towards providing a nurse practitioner and doctorate in nursing program in the coming years.

Leaders say it was a community effort and are giving a big thanks to the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the E. Stuart James Grant Charitable Trust, Danville Regional Medical Center and the Danville Regional Foundation, for their help it the growth of the program.

See the full press release below:

The baccalaureate nursing program at Averett University recently received accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, an autonomous accrediting agency that ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate and residency programs in nursing. The Averett School of Nursing's degree program includes two tracks: an on-campus, four-year, traditional bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) track, and an online, accelerated registered nurse (RN) to BSN track.

The program was awarded a five-year accreditation, the maximum term for a new program.

In November 2015, the School of Nursing hosted a team of evaluators from CCNE who examined the program for how well it met its four standards, and afterward submitted a report to CCNE's Accreditation Review Committee (ARC). The ARC met this spring to review all reports submitted, and made a recommendation to the CCNE Board of Commissioners (BOC) for Averett's accreditation. The BOC met in early May and granted the final approval for accreditation.

"Averett University has significantly expanded in the health sciences in recent years, offering more programs with cutting-edge facilities and top-notch faculty," said Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. "Our state-of-the-art nurse education facility opened in August 2012, and the nursing program's progress within a short period of time has been remarkable. Receiving this accreditation will only bolster that growth and enhance the already exceptional level of nursing education offered at Averett."

The CCNE falls under the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) umbrella, which has established nine essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice. In addition, nursing schools must meet four standards of program quality and effectiveness that CCNE has mandated to be accredited.

"We've worked very hard to build an exceptional curriculum for our nursing students and adopt the AACN Essentials as a framework for our program, and this accreditation speaks to the dedication and support of so many faculty, staff, administrators and students," said Averett School of Nursing Dean Dr. Pamela Giles. "Deep in the heart of southern Virginia, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a hidden gem of a nursing school - a place where caring and relationships are still important, and where faculty know your name. I couldn't be more proud of this designation."

The program currently enrolls almost 100 students between the two tracks, and it was the third largest major among students in last fall's entering class. It graduated 16 students in its first class of graduates this past December, many of whom immediately found work in the region, like at Duke University Hospital and Danville Regional Medical Center, or are pursuing graduate work.

Current traditional students are taught at the Health Sciences Innovative Practice Center at Averett's Riverview Campus in Danville, which is providing nursing students hands-on training opportunities with its state-of-the-art simulation lab, skills lab and health assessment lab. RN to BSN students, who are part of the university's Graduate and Professional Studies Program, learn from a specialized curriculum designed to prepare graduates for nursing management and leadership positions, as well as take the AONE Nursing Manager and Leader Certification exam.

The founding donors, whose support was essential to the establishment of this program, include the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the E. Stuart James Grant Charitable Trust, Danville Regional Medical Center and the Danville Regional Foundation.

""Congratulations to Averett University on reaching this important milestone," said Delegate Terry Kilgore, Chairman of the Tobacco Commission. "This is a great investment by the Tobacco Commission addressing the medical needs of Southside Virginia."