With a focus on workforce development, economic vitality, and a healthier future for all, a new collaboration has been formed to expand a nursing program in St. Albans. Northwestern Medical Center (NMC), Vermont Tech, and the Community College of Vermont (CCV) are working together to establish this training program as part of an innovative, integrated facility being developed at Congress and Main in downtown St. Albans. NMC signed the lease for its portion of the soon-to-be constructed facility at a brief ceremony on April 5.
“We are thrilled to invest in developing our local talent as a strategy to bring more of our community’s youth and aspiring adults into the nursing profession,” said Jill Bowen, RN, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer. “This is a partnership that will strengthen the vitality of our community and our region in many ways.”
The program will include up to 18 practical nursing and 27 associate degree seats. Graduates of the Vermont Tech Practical Nursing Program will be eligible to become licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and can continue their education in the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) Program or practice as an LPN. Graduates of the ADN Program are eligible to sit for the national registered nurse (RN) licensing exam and can continue their studies in Vermont Tech’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. The programs will have access to experienced nurse educators at NMC and are open to students coming directly out of high school as well as adult learners and existing nursing staff. They will help increase the available supply of nurses for partners across the region which will help to reduce recruitment costs in the face of the national shortage of nurses. This partnership supports an accessible career path for many which will now be available without the burden of travel outside the region.
The new facility at Congress and Main will include a new high-tech simulation lab which will serve nurses as well as providers, respiratory therapists, and other clinicians by simulating patient experiences and interventions of many types. This will promote ongoing integrated learning and collaboration in care teams across the NMC system and among community partners.
CCV will also be relocating the programs from its South Main Street campus to the new building at Congress and Main. These offerings will be a feeder for the Vermont Tech nursing program. “We are excited to bring CCV to downtown St. Albans,” said CCV President Joyce Judy of CCV. “This move allows us to expand opportunities for students with innovative programming and state-of-the-art facilities. We look forward to having Northwestern Medical Center as a close partner in the work.”
“Vermont Tech is very excited about this expanded partnership with Northwestern Medical Center and CCV enabling us to expand our nursing program into downtown St. Albans,” said Vermont Tech President Pat Moulton. “This is a win/win for all. More great higher education programs in downtown including an expanded nursing program which will result in more nurses providing excellent health care in northwest Vermont!”
In addition to collaborating in the nursing program and the simulation lab, NMC will locate Lifestyle Medicine services and RiseVT outreach in the new facility to inject the energy of healthy lifestyles into the downtown area. Resources will include health coaching, healthy meal prep programs using local produce, a demonstration kitchen, exercise opportunities, and flexible space for community use. “The infusion of wellness into this new facility is part of coaching a village to embrace healthier lifestyles,” said Bowen. “We need to meet people where they are at in their health journeys and help the healthy choices to be the easy choices throughout the community. By investing in wellness, in job training, and in our community, we can help ensure a healthier future for all.”
There are retail opportunities envisioned within the Congress and Main building, as well as a housing component through the involvement of Champlain Housing Trust. “This entire project contributes directly to the vibrancy of the St. Albans revitalization,” said Bowen. “It will bring more people downtown to shop, eat, and do business. We are thankful for the efforts of the City of St. Albans and Nedde Real Estate who are making this advancement in our community a reality.”
“The Congress and Main project is instrumental to St. Albans as a whole, as it will bring people to the downtown on a daily basis which is key to growing existing businesses and attracting new business,” said St. Albans City Mayor Tim Smith. “We appreciate CCV and the hospital board’s strategic long-term investment in this partnership as we work together to improve workforce development, economic vitality, and community health.”