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Feature Story

New B.S.N. Program Will Help Meet Critical Shortage of Nurses

Gina Caldwell Associate Editor

Dr. Melody EatonThe first class of nursing students has enrolled at Longwood. Thirty-two women and men make up the class that is scheduled to graduate in 2013. 

"The new nursing program will allow Longwood University to meet a critical need for health care in south-central Virginia," said Longwood President Patricia Cormier. "We are very pleased to be adding a nursing degree to our curriculum, and we look forward to graduating our first class of nurses."

Dr. Melody Eaton joined the Longwood faculty in August as chair of the nursing department and director of the nursing program. She previously served as program coordinator for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at James Madison University (JMU). A certified nurse educator, she earned her Ph.D. from George Mason University, M.B.A. from George Washington University and B.S.N. from JMU. Dr. Eaton has experience in a variety of nursing and healthcare management positions as well as in critical care, acute medicine and surgery, cardiac catheterization, and community clinical nursing.

"It is both an honor and a privilege to join this community as director of the new Longwood University Nursing Program," said Dr. Eaton. The current nursing shortage reduces access to care and quality of care for Virginia citizens. This program will produce highly qualified nursing professionals, and, at the same time, become part of the solution to the nursing shortage within our local community and the Commonwealth."

In January 2009 the Virginia Board of Nursing (VBN) and the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) in Virginia approved the curriculum for Longwood's BSN program. In addition to approval from SCHEV and the VBN, the program includes the essential content recommended by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Upon completion of the degree, graduates will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination to practice professional nursing as a registered nurse (RN).

SCHEV estimates that Virginia will need to double its average number of new RN licenses per year to meet the demand for new RN positions and replace retiring nurses. SCHEV has recommended that the nursing shortage be addressed by increasing nursing education program capacity. Existing programs cannot meet the demand and, in fact, are turning away qualified students. 

To learn more about Longwood's BSN program visit www.longwood.edu/nursing

Related Story: Dr. Edward I. Gordon Gives $1 Million to Longwood Nursing Program