Averett University Marks Grand Opening of Norfolk Nursing Learning Center

Posted on February 16th, 2022 by Cassie Jones

Averett University hosted a Grand Opening Celebration of its Norfolk Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) Learning Center on February 15 – a space designed to put health care heroes on the front lines of care faster.

The Averett School of Nursing launched its ABSN program in May, and already 60 students have enrolled. Some of those students joined others in officially celebrating the Hampton Roads space, where the first cohort began classes in 2021.

“These nurses will not only answer the sacred call to heal and care for the sickest patients, but they are also helping to fill a major workforce gap in the area’s nursing pipeline while expanding the University’s footprint even further across the Commonwealth,” said Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks.

Dr. Teresa Beach ’86, interim dean of the Averett School of Nursing, shared how this program compliments the School of Nursing’s other offerings, and how these ABSN students will be part of an alumni base of more than 150 Averett nursing graduates.

Averett’s accredited ABSN program creates a new professional path for students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees – or with at least 60 non-nursing college credits – to help them shift careers and become a nurse sooner. The hybrid format combines an online curriculum with hands-on application in an interactive, state-of-the-art learning lab and can be completed in as few as 16 months. Students apply their skills through clinical rotations at Bon Secours, the University’s health care partner in Norfolk.

“This partnership has been phenomenal so far, and I only anticipate it getting better,” said forty-year nursing veteran Dr. Jan Phillips, vice president and chief nurse executive at Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital. “Nursing is a true calling, a labor of love…and that’s what we’re meant to do.”

She shared that already, the students from this program are making a difference at their hospitals.

“These students are great on our units, and staff love having them there. They challenge how we think, and remind us that the way it’s always been done doesn’t have to be the way it is still done. We should continually learn,” Phillips said.

Travis Pocta, university relations liaison for Bon Secours’ Hampton Roads market, agreed that Averett nursing students are an asset.

“That is talent that we see, and that we want to come work for us,” he said.

That talent was evident when guests heard from the final speaker, ABSN student Michelle Balderrama as she shared her inspiring journey to becoming a nursing student.

The military veteran and mom of three is finally pursing her call to nursing, and feels confident this is the best place for her to be.

“This was the perfect program for me,” she said. “The support we have here is phenomenal.”

Balderrama plans to become a labor and delivery nurse upon graduating, just like the nurse who helped her as she gave birth to all three of her children.

After the program, guests toured the space, visited classrooms where students learn and saw up-close the simulation patients and training equipment on which Averett nursing student learn.

To view more photos from the event, click here.

The Averett ABSN program has annual start dates in January, May and August. For more information, visit https://absn.averett.edu/.