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Virginia Nursing Colleges Object To Online Degree Agreement

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Gov. McDonnell's low-cost nursing plan makes the field more affordable, but at the cost of supporting the commonwealth's many existing nursing programs.
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Gov. McDonnell's low-cost nursing plan makes the field more affordable, but at the cost of supporting the commonwealth's many existing nursing programs.

Leaders of the nursing community in Virginia are angry about a plan to help more registered nurses in the Commonwealth get bachelor's degrees. The agreement, announced by Gov. Bob McDonnell, will send tuition dollars out of state.

The governor's office had announced an agreement between Virginia's community colleges and Western Governors University — an online school based in Salt Lake City. Counting the cost of community college, practicing nurses with a two-year degree could take nine classes pass-fail, and get a Bachelor's for under $20,000.

"We at the University of Virginia have chosen to do more traditional face-to-face, but we have low-cost options right in the state, and the hope was to keep our tuition dollars in the state," says Dorrie Fontaine, Dean of UVA's School of Nursing.

At a four-year school like Virginia Commonwealth University, a bachelor's in nursing would cost twice as much as under the new plan.  She says there are 15 good nursing programs in the Commonwealth, some of them offered online.

The president of the Virginia Nurses Association met with state officials Monday and received a promise of future collaboration.

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