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Medical Education Campus Comes Into Own

Springfield campus offers opportunities for medical training.

Northern Virginia Community College's Medical Education Center campus took a step closer to being fully-operational on July 1, 2004. That's when the Sprinfield education facility officially became its own campus. When the new budget went into effect after weeks of limbo in Richmond, funding was included for the new campus in Springfield, opening the doors for new hiring and additional classes.

"As of July 1, we became a campus," said Tricia Holser, NVCC spokesperson. "We will be fully staffed."

Although the Springfield campus opened in August 2003, the students that attended were technically registered at NVCC's Annandale campus. Now 1,000 students are enrolled at the new facility, which has room for 3,500, according to Holser.

The campus is one of seven NVCC campus in Northern Virginia and is the only medical facility in the community college system, offering full nurse and eventually doctor credentials. It has a mock ambulance bay for emergency medical technician training as well as a cadaver lab.

"This is considered a model facility," Holser said.

ALEXANDRIA RESIDENT Kimberly Soutuyo has been at the Medical Education Center since it opened. She will graduate in May 2005 with a nursing degree.

"It's a good, new facility, we get a lot of clinic time," Soutuyo said. "Students get time in the clinic setting."

Soutuyo splits her time between the Springfield campus and the obstetrics department at Inova Fairfax. She also works with the "medical mall," at the center, where underinsured patients come in for free check-ups and dental work performed by the students.

"Everything is overseen by a doctor or dentist, you have your students under them," Holser said.

Ronda Hall is in charge of the Continuing Education and Workforce Development program. "RN Return To Practice," is one part of CEWD, which focuses on reinstating nurses who have been out of the field for a period of time. Some of the students are nurses who have left the field to raise families, while others may have taken a job in another field.

"It's men and women both going back to practice," said Hall. "We have a lot of second career folks."

Some of the classes are non-credit courses designed to reintroduce students into the nursing field, while others offer full college credit. Several companies and hospitals post job announcements at the center.

"We've got a huge job [listing] in terms of hiring and staffing up," Hall said.