Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program                                                                                                            

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About the Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program

The Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program (VATNP) is a consortium of three community colleges, Virginia Highlands Community College, Southwest Virginia Community College and Mountain Empire Community College. The VATNP is a 69 semester credit course of study leading to an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing. Associate degree nursing programs are designed to prepare selected students to take the National Council Licensure Exam – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) and to perform direct patient care primarily in acute care settings and under supervision of the more experienced Registered Nurse.


Year Total Number Passed Total Number
of Candidates
Percentage of
Students Passed
2006 134 156 85.9%
2007 105 155 67.7%
2008 109 138 79.0%
2009 113 129 87.6%
2010 136 154 88.3%
2011 142 180 78.9%
2012 130 155 83.87%
2013 151 156 85.06%
2014  137 150 91.4%
VATNP History

In the fall of 1972, the Nursing Program began as a two college program (Virginia Highlands Community College and Southwest Virginia Community College) with 34 students, three faculty members, the Director and a secretary. All nursing courses were taught on the Virginia Highlands Community College campus.

In 1975, an agreement was made with Mountain Empire Community College that allowed 12 students from that region to enter the program. In the summer of 1976, the three college program was approved and the name became the Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program. Also in 1976, the program received accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) (3343 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 850, Atlanta, Georgia 30326, and has been continually accredited since that time.  The program is approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing.  In 1984, an additional section was added at Southwest Virginia Community College.  This part of the program is located in Grundy, VA. 

With this new three college program, first year nursing courses and support courses were offered at all three campuses, with second year nursing courses still taught at Virginia Highlands Community College. In 1984, an additional section was added at Southwest Virginia Community College. This part of the program is located in Grundy.

In 2005, the program received significant grants from the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the US Department of Health. These grants enabled the program to offer the curriculum at each campus on a part-time evening/weekend schedule for working adults. In 2010, the program received grant funding from the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the US Department of Health to develop a nursing curriculum that would include use of healthcare technologies and informatics. In addition, the grants provided a state of the art centralized technology and simulation center at VHCC to provide simulated clinical experiences for all VATNP students. 

Enrollment on each campus has steadily increased and the program now accepts 150 to 200 new students each year with a total enrollment of approximately 400 students. The program is able to offer the majority of students their clinical experience close to their home campus. Since its beginning in 1972, the program has graduated over 4000 students. The Virginia Appalachian Tricollege Nursing Program looks forward to the continued growth and development of this program.

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