Unique mobile lab brings healthcare education opportunities to rural West Virginia

ELKINS – West Virginia Junior College is partnering with healthcare providers across the state to bring education opportunities to rural West Virginia through an innovative program made possible by the use of a Mobile Nursing Lab.

The school announced the Accelerated Hybrid-Online Associates Degree in Nursing program at an event at Davis Medical Center in Elkins on Monday.

“This program is very unique because it aggregates students across several rural counties,” said Chad Callen, chairman of the board at West Virginia Junior College. “They take their classes online, but they do their lab and clinical work in the communities in which they live, decreasing the distances that people have to travel for training and thereby increasing the likelihood that they stay in their communities, where people with these skillsets are so desperately needed.”

WVJC is targetting four West Virginia regions through the program. Region 1 is defined as Randolph, Barbour, Tucker, Taylor, Upshur, and Lewis counties.

The Accelerated Hybrid-Online Nursing program is a collection of four key elements that provide rural West Virginia communities with local nurses:

  • Fast track – Students can complete this program in 18 months.
  • Hybrid format – A portion of the studies are online in an asynchronous fashion where students can complete the work on their own time, while clinical and lab training are done in person.
  • Local – This program allows students in rural areas to stay and work close to home.
  • Mobile – The Mobile Nursing Lab allows students to benefit from high-fidelity simulation training.

The Mobile Nursing Lab is a 38-foot RV that has been reconstructed into a simulation technology center equipped with two functioning hospital rooms and a control center.

“This Mobile Nursing Lab is the first of its kind in the state, and very rare to find across the country,” Callen said. “In those hospital rooms, we have high-fidelity simulation mannequins. It is a technology that is very advanced to train in high stress environments. By making it mobile, it allows us to take this technology – that is normally cost-prohibitive – to areas where it doesn’t exist.”

Four training mannequins are available to students within the Mobile Nursing Lab. Each mannequin can mimic real-life symptoms, injuries and other clinical situations, which allows students to practice patient care without real-world affects. They can simulate everything from cardiac arrest to burns to delivering a baby.

“My favorite thing in the world is this Mobile Nursing Lab,” said Christin Mearns, a clinical and lab coordinator at WVJC. “I’ve been in simulation education for three to four years, and this was my dream, so when I joined WVJC, my jaw dropped. I always wished for this.”

Lab and clinical students can review their work through video surveillance, both in real-time and during a post-event review. Fellow students can watch what is happening in the simulated hospital rooms and discuss what was done correctly and where their fellow students can improve their skills.

The new program opens future career opportunities to students, and collaborations with healthcare facilities like Davis Medical Center provides students with real-world experience and networking partnerships with RNs who are currently working in the healthcare industry.

“We are going to be working with the nurses who work at Davis Medical Center to be instructors for us,” said Samantha Esposito, campus president at WVJC Morgantown Online. “That’s why it’s really important, this partnership we’ve developed with Davis Medical Center, because we want the nurses who work there to teach our students, and what that will do is retain those students, so they accept employment at Davis Medical Center.”

Qualified nurses interested in participating in the innovative rural health care program should apply at https://www.wvjc.edu/employment-opportunities.

“This program is designed for students to become Registered Nurses,” Callen said. “However, it is also intended to be a community resource as we accept inquiries from healthcare providers in these areas if they’d like to provide continued education training, we will do that in partnership with them.”

Health care facilities interested in partnering with West Virginia Junior College should contact Samantha Esposito at sesposito@wvjc.edu. Learn more about program offerings West Virginia Junior College by visiting their website. For prospective students to the Accelerated Hybrid Online Nursing Program should inquire online.

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