Tue, April 07

College partnership with VVMC
VVMC has been instrumental in growth of nursing program at College

Dr. JJ Bleicher of VVMC receiving Yavapai College and Yavapai College Foundation President’s Award in June 2010.

Dr. JJ Bleicher of VVMC receiving Yavapai College and Yavapai College Foundation President’s Award in June 2010.

As Chris Witbeck recalls, it all started with a casual dinner conversation and a dose of constructive criticism.

Rich Hen, Director of Education for Northern Arizona Healthcare, was politely relaying a sentiment from some of the nursing students at Yavapai College that the ITD (Interactive Television Delivery) wasn’t best serving the educational needs of the students.

This off handed comment has since sparked a mutually beneficial and important relationship between Yavapai College and Verde Valley Medical Center, a subsidiary of Northern Arizona Healthcare, which has resulted in the addition of four full-time faculty members, one clinical educator, and a President’s Award for VVMC.

The initial response to Rich Hen’s comment was “Yes, full time on site faculty members would be fantastic for the nursing program, but like most educational decisions, there were monetary obstacles,” said Chris Witbeck, Dean of Allied Health and Nursing at Yavapai College. “The desire on the part of the Verde Valley campus and the demand from the students were in line. We just needed a partner to help us out.”

Yavapai College found that partner in Verde Valley Medical Center in Clarkdale, a subsidiary of the parent company, Northern Arizona Healthcare.

By providing the necessary funding to support the addition of four full-time faculty members and one full time clinical educator, the VVMC has been instrumental in the growth of the nursing program at Yavapai College as a whole, not just the Verde Valley campus of Yavapai College.

A vibrant and quality nursing program only serves to enhance the mission of the Verde Valley Medical Center by providing the region with a well educated, prepared workforce.

In recent years the nursing program has grown as fast as it can.

The program as a whole has tripled in size since 2004. There are currently 96 nursing students taking a full course load on the Verde Valley campus, where students can receive the entirety of their education.

In light of this growth, “Support from VVMC has been truly instrumental for the entire nursing program, especially since the expiration of grant funding from the Department of Commerce and Labor,” said Chris Witbeck. “Without this support the entire program could have experienced cutbacks.”

Recently Dr. JJ Bleicher and VVMC, received the Yavapai College and Yavapai College Foundation President’s Award for the medical center’s work with the college’s nursing program.

Echoing the sentiment of Chris Witbeck when he presented the Presidents Award, Dr. James Horton Jr., Yavapai President, said, “Over the last three years, the medical center donated more than $600,000 to underwrite four Yavapai College nursing faculty members.

They provided full time coordination on their medical center staff for all Yavapai College nursing student clinical training needs in their facilities. We simply could not provide this critical program in Verde Valley without their leadership support.”

The “clinical training needs” that President Horton referred to include clinical placements that give students the real life clinical experience similar to rotations that a medical student would complete.

All nursing programs are not created equally, with some programs focusing more on research and theory and others placing importance on experience in the field; Yavapai College subscribes to the latter. For this reason the partnerships that Yavapai College creates with area medical providers are vital.

While VVMC provides the most substantial financial support Yavapai Regional Medical Center and the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System both provide funding for one part time position.

As the economic landscape continues to shift and evolve, the need for educational opportunities that respond to the needs of the community will continue. Partnerships between industry and community colleges, such as the one between Verde Valley Medical Center and Yavapai College, will serve as a model in the future.

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