He says there is a “significant need” for more health care professionals in Virginia.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) addressed students who will graduate from the George Washington School of Nursing in January, assuring them that they have chosen a “superb profession.”
“We have a significant need for more health care professionals with the Affordable Care Act, the aging of our population—all of these things are creating that demand,” Sen. Kaine said during his visit to GW’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus (VSTC) on Monday. “Campuses like this are where the solutions lie.”
Sen. Kaine toured the School of Nursing in Ashburn, Va., with George Washington President Steven Knapp and nursing faculty. The visit coincided with poster presentations from students in the 15-month Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program. During the poster session, students showcased their final capstone research projects for the senator, whose oldest son is a 2012 GW alumnus.
“Sen. Kaine is committed to finding smart strategies to expand health care access while reducing costs to families, businesses and government,” Dr. Knapp said. “On behalf of the School of Nursing, I’m especially appreciative of that effort.”
A self-proclaimed “huge believer” in professional education, the senator formed the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus in January. The bipartisan caucus focuses on preparing students with skills “for jobs of the 21st century.” Sen. Kaine applauded the School of Nursing for its efforts to train the next generation of nurses, including its guaranteed admission program for any student who receives an associate's degree in nursing at a Virginia community college.
Sen. Kaine was interested in learning about the School of Nursing’s new Veterans B.S.N., which provides support services and offers academic credit for veterans’ prior military training and experience. One out of nine adults in Virginia are veterans, he said.
During his address to the soon-to-be graduates, the senator stressed that a nursing degree is flexible and opens doors to a diverse number of careers. His current staff member’s nursing background makes her “uniquely skilled” to be an advocate for veterans in Virginia, he said. And his former staffer Marilyn Tavenner, who earned a nursing degree from a Virginia community college, is now administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“Whether you choose to be a nurse in a clinical setting, a nursing educator, to run a policy-based agency or to do constituent services—this is a career that is going to put you in a wonderful position to tackle our health care challenges,” Sen. Kaine said.
(From left) Clinical Skills and Simulation Laboratory Director Patricia Davis and accelerated B.S.N. student Cindy Cruzan show Sen. Tim Kaine how the manikins in the School of Nursing's simulation lab operate during his visit to the VSTC on Monday.
Sen. Kaine also toured the Skills and Simulation Laboratory, a 6,300-square-foot lab space with 21 patient manikins, all who have names, personal histories and physiologically accurate responses to the care provided by students. The senator met “Colonel Yoder,” an Army veteran with a sore foot and “Becky,” who is set to deliver a baby at 10 a.m. Thursday. The manikins provide students true-to-life patient interactions prior to and as a complement to their clinical rotations.
“The neat thing about the simulation lab is that they can simulate all kinds of conditions,” Sen. Kaine said. “There is not a sense of complete nerves and anxiety of seeing something they’ve never seen before. It seems to give students a comfort level.”
Mary Jean Schumann, interim senior associate dean for academic affairs, said having the senator on campus gave students a better sense of the scope of their future careers.
“His presence here highlights to students their value to Virginia and their value to the university,” said Dr. Schumann.
At the end of the senator’s visit, Sen. Kaine talked with nursing students, like Maya Manser, a former chemical engineer. After she became a mother, Ms. Manser said she desired to become a nurse in order to have a more direct impact on others’ lives.
The B.S.N. students, split into groups for their capstone projects, used a situation or issue they encountered during their clinical experience to delve deeper into a research topic that might have practical applications.
For Ms. Manser’s group’s capstone project, the students investigated a simple solution for preventing central line-associated bloodstream infections in patients, a common problem in hospitals that can turn deadly. Ms. Manser told Sen. Kaine she is looking forward to graduation and passing her licensure examination.
“We’re all finishing that one last paper, trying to get through one last week,” Ms. Manser said. “We’re all really excited. It’s been a long process.”