West Virginia Wesleyan College Interim President Dr. James Moore, left, and David Goldberg, President and CEO of Mon Health System and Executive Vice President of Vandalia Health, shake hands after signing the certificate of partnership on Friday, January 20. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik/My Buckhannon)

West Virginia Wesleyan College, Mon Health System announce nursing partnership that includes scholarships, employment guarantee

BUCKHANNON – West Virginia Wesleyan College and Mon Health have launched a new collaboration to offer expanded opportunities for nursing majors as part of an effort to improve healthcare outcomes in local communities throughout the state.

The partnership was announced at a ceremony on Friday, Jan. 20, when representatives from Mon Health and WVWC signed the official documents to create the Mon Health Scholars program.

“The partnership will offer nursing students a scholarship opportunity and an employment guarantee upon graduation, as well as benefits for Mon Health System employees,” said John Waltz, West Virginia Wesleyan College Vice President of Enrollment and Marketing. “The Mon Health Scholars program pairs the West Virginia Wesleyan College nursing education of distinction and excellence with clinical rotations throughout the region, including new opportunities within the health system.”

The scholarship includes financial support for tuition, textbooks and academic fees. Once a student earns their degree, they are guaranteed employment in the Mon Health System. The partnership also provides Mon Health employees — including spouses and dependents — with discounts and scholarships for full-time undergraduate and graduate tuition, as well as priority enrollment events and services.

David Goldberg, the President and CEO of Mon Health System and Executive Vice President of Vandalia Health, said it’s important to provide interested students with every opportunity to join the nursing field.

“Nursing is one of the most sought-after and most respected professions,” Goldberg said. “It’s our job to grow our own, and West Virginia has some special aspects for community growth. The bad news is we also have some of the worst health care outcomes, so if a nurse who comes from Wesleyan or any other school leaves our state, we can’t backfill and take care of the people close to home.”

Goldberg said Mon Health reached out to Wesleyan specifically because of their academic acumen.

“The stress on academics is no different than the stresses in healthcare,” he said. “We need to be able to grow our own key people here, build our workforce, take care of our communities — to me those are the pillars of economic growth. We couldn’t be more thrilled about the partnership and what’s going it’s going to do for our nursing students, to stay in our community, work in the Mon Health family, be able to take care of the ones we love and be able to grow together.”

Dr. James Moore, Wesleyan’s Interim President, said he received a whole new level of appreciation for the nursing school when he began working as the Vice President for Academic Affairs in 2017.

“The scariest part of that job was that I was going to have to quickly develop an understanding of our nursing program, and coming from the furthest part away from that academic discipline — music and jazz performance — I felt ill-equipped to understand and be able to support them,” Moore said. “But what I found in the faculty and leadership in our School of Nursing was absolutely amazing. It is a tough time to have this job: there’s burnout, there’s a pandemic we’re coming out of, and as David said, our outcomes in the state need work. Mon Health is on the front lines of trying to improve those outcomes, and I’m excited that we get to be on the front lines to help make the state a better place.”

“It’s also special to me because I’ve gotten to know our nursing students over the last couple of years,” he added. “I’m biased because I’ve been at this college 17 years, but I really do believe that we put out some of the best nurses anywhere.”

Moore said nursing is WVWC’s most popular major right now.

“That should tell all of us that healthcare is a critical need and healthcare providers are critically needed,” Moore said. “Prospective students are being drawn to that major, not just because it’s a healthy career path, but I really believe our nursing students care about being of service to their state and to their region, and that’s why they’re jumping into this major.”

Carole Norton, Chief Nursing Officer with Mon Health Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston, said she was happy to be part of a program that will tackle West Virginia’s nurse shortage.

“Stonewall is a clinical site for West Virginia Wesleyan — not only for their clinical rotation but also for preceptorship,” she said. “A lot of my nursing students went into the nurse practitioner part of the school, so I’m very excited to extend this program and to get new nursing students in the door, so we can offer them the education they need and the clinical aspect that we need, in our setting and across the Mon Health system. It’s one more step to combat the nursing shortage in the state.”

Dr. Krystal Atkinson, the Chief Nursing Executive for Mon Health System and Chief Administrative Officer at Mon Health Medical Center, said she sees this as an opportunity to strengthen the healthcare field.

“I think having the partnership with WVWC is certainly going to strengthen our systems, but also our communities have the unprecedented ability to be able to come together from a perspective of strengthening the healthcare field,” Atkinson said. “We’ll have the ability to have people in the rural setting and the urban setting, with a plethora of experiences throughout their clinical life. I’m looking forward to working alongside Wesleyan and really growing a partnership and growing nursing throughout our system and in our communities.”

According to a press release from the college, scholarship applicants must be admitted to the WVWC nursing program and maintain a college cumulative GPA of 2.0, while still meeting the GPA requirements for the nursing program. Students who have less than 12 credits of college coursework must have a high school GPA of 3.0. Students must also be a resident of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, or Maryland.

Mon Health System will select award recipients for each fall and spring semester. Students interested in applying for the Mon Health Scholars Program may visit MonHealth.com/MonScholars.

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