JCHS, VWCC Join Forces On Health Care Curriculum

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NL Bishop (left) and Bobby Sandel sign agreement.
NL Bishop (left) and Bobby Sandel sign agreement.

by Gene Marrano

Jefferson College of Health Sciences and Virginia Western Community College continue to strengthen ties between the two institutions. The most recent evidence of this was an articulation agreement signed last week that will allow Virginia Western graduates to have a guaranteed slot at Jefferson College, which is now located at the former Carilion Community Hospital site. Carilion still offers urgent care there and JCHS students get on-the-job training as well. The school offers four year degrees in nursing and other health care fields.

The articulation agreement pertains to the Healthcare Management Program at JCHS, which will enable VWCC graduates with associate’s degrees to transfer without a hitch. Virginia Western already has such agreements in place with other colleges and universities around the state.

VWCC president Bobby Sandel joined Jefferson College president Nathaniel L. (NL) Bishop for a signing ceremony, flanked by other officials and students. The two schools previously put an articulation agreement in place for a nursing program, so that Virginia Western graduates could pursue a four-year degree at JCHS.

“We anticipate that this agreement will be the first of many that we will undertake,” said Bishop of the documents he and Sandel were about to sign. “I look forward to these collaborations.” The Healthcare Management Program focuses on leadership skills for those that look to land administrative roles in the field. Having “more well trained health care professionals,” sent out into the workforce is the goal for both schools, according to Bishop, and working together makes that more of a reality.

“We’ve been developing a closer and closer relationship with Virginia Western Community College over the last couple of years,” said Bishop after he and Sandel signed papers and shook hands. The two have talked about prospects for health care employment in the future – how it remains one of the few boom markets. “It only makes sense for us to complement each other, rather than compete with each other. This is a manifestation of those conversations.”

“[We’re] seeking a seamless route,” said Dr. Bishop of the new agreement.  Sandel joked that Western was “trying to keep up with NL, he’s got this fancy building now,” and expansion at Jefferson College, which now has more than 1100 students, twice as many as there was five years ago. There are more than 13,000 students of all ages at VWCC currently, which is adding a new science building and has other plans for expansion of its own.

Sandel called Bishop “a terrific person.” As for the agreement, Sandel noted that, “relationships make things happen.” He sees Jefferson College as ready to take that “next step” as it adds more four-year degree programs.

Sandel termed the agreement “two great colleges making a difference in this region.” He didn’t know the exact details but feels like transferring students must have at least a C average to qualify and a 2.0 GPA in order to have credits accepted. Bishop, coming up on two years in his role at the Carilion-owned school, said Sandel “has been a wonderful friend and mentor,” during that time frame.

“We want to see things happen for our students,” said Sandel, who believes that community colleges should be a place where people build their workforce skills. “Our mission is to prepare people…for the workforce. The relationship we have with Jefferson College is a real step in that direction.”

“A seamless transfer [should become] a reality for students,” said Sandel. “It means no hassles … I’m delighted to have this relationship. We’ve gone out of our way to make this [articulation agreement] happen”