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King University News :: King's Partnerships with Regional Community Colleges Provide Opportunities

King University’s partnerships with regional community colleges serve to strengthen the high caliber of nurses with which the University’s School of Nursing is renowned. 

“The U.S. health care system and practice environment, including educational institutions, are making profound changes to increase the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree from the current 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020,” said Dr. Johanne Quinn, dean and professor of King’s School of Nursing.  “King University has taken a lead in this effort to promote seamless access for nurses to earn a higher level of education by collaborating with several community colleges throughout Tennessee and Virginia. King’s enrollment has doubled in the past few years through its many outreach campuses and locations.  This will not only address the nursing shortage but it will also provide a workforce prepared to meet the demands of diverse populations.” 

One community college partner is Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, Va.  “Virginia Highlands Community College is proud to partner with King University to offer top-quality nursing education programs,” said Dr. Ron Proffitt, president of Virginia Highlands Community College.  “Working together, we are supplying our region’s healthcare community with registered nurses and making it possible for them to continue rewarding careers while they pursue advanced degrees.  Our workforce, local economy, and the region’s healthcare community all benefit from this outstanding partnership.” 

King’s nursing program is built on a holistic philosophy that promotes caring relationships and critical thinking.  Its curriculum encourages diversity; social tolerance and justice; and personal, interpersonal, and professional development.  It also supports mission work and an interdisciplinary process that focuses on the physical, spiritual, and intellectual dimensions of health.  The School of Nursing yields highly sought after nurses.

Nursing students develop key competencies to promote, maintain, and restore health through planned classroom and clinical experiences, including King’s nursing skills laboratory.  Students also develop working relationships with faculty who are highly qualified as skilled practitioners and educators, as well as interact with classmates who represent a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and experiences.

Students also apply classroom knowledge and gain hands-on experience through learning opportunities at the area's finest hospitals and community settings such as health departments and schools, as well as gain acute and critical care experience in local major hospitals, including top-rated cardiac and oncology units. 

The partnerships created with community colleges across Tennessee and Virginia make it possible to meet students where they are.  Whether it is a personal goal or a step toward furthering their career, King is making it easier for working adults throughout the region in their quest to obtain their degree. 

Students who are currently in the nursing program at Virginia Highlands Community College typically complete their associate degree prior to transferring to King for the University’s nursing bridge program.  Students can transfer to King’s nursing program from any program at Virginia Highlands.  A reverse articulation agreement would apply if the student transfers prior to completing their associate at Virginia Highlands.  This agreement allows credits earned at King to transfer back to Virginia Highlands, and thereby allowing the student to complete his or her associate degree at Virginia Highlands while also earning their bachelor’s degree at King. 

Currently, King has articulation agreements with nine community colleges, five in Tennessee and four in Virginia, including Virginia Highlands Community College, Mountain Empire Community College, Southwest Virginia Community College, and Wytheville Community College.  Also, King is currently developing reverse transfer credit agreements with all partner community colleges.

Three community colleges in Southwest Virginia have developed the Tri-College Nursing Program, in which Virginia Highlands Community College, Mountain Empire Community College, and Southwest Virginia Community College collaborate to offer one nursing program.  The three schools share resources to provide the nursing program to students at all three institutions. 

“An articulation agreement is designed to ensure a students’ path from a community college going through transfer into a bachelor’s level college is a seamless transition,” stated Micah Crews, associate vice president of enrollment management for Graduate and Professional Studies Online Programs (GPS).  “It is designed to take much of the guess work out of the transfer process.  Students know their credits will be accepted at the receiving institution.  Depending on how detailed the articulation agreement is, the student may even know course for course how credits will transfer. 

In addition to King’s traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, King is making it easier for working nurses throughout Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee in their quest to obtain a bachelor’s degree.  King’s GPS Bachelor of Science in Nursing for Registered Nurses (RN-BSN) degree program empowers nurses to become leaders in the health care industry. 

“King's nursing faculty are receptive to the changing landscape in healthcare. They are positioning themselves to be nimble by helping to meet the need for more nurses in the region and in the nation,” said Dr. Matt Roberts, dean of academic affairs and chief academic officer. Our faculty go to multiple instructional locations. One of King's biggest successes is the RN-BSN program, and it shows that wherever we go, there is a need.”

Roberts added, “King, along with its community college partners, is going to meet students where they are and will continue to provide relevant and meaningful educational opportunities that are responsive to the needs of the 21st Century.”

“For nurses who have their RN license by way of an associate degree, King’s RN-BSN GPS program provide an easy transition to obtain their bachelor’s degree in nursing in as little as 16 months,” said Crews.  “In King’s traditional BSN program, we receive transfers from the community colleges who then complete their entire nursing program at King.  We work with the students so they are ready to go into our clinical program and complete it within two years.”

“It is part of our goal with our community college partners to create clear degree pathways for students to be able to walk through, eliminating as many bumps along the road as possible,” continued Crews.  “We would not be able to do this without the support and the hard work that our community college partners put into working with these students as well.” 

King Nursing student Tammy Herndon is pursuing her RN-BSN degree through King’s School of Nursing and the GPS program.  Tammy took a moment to describe her journey to King and her career choice of nursing.  “Nursing is my second career.  After high school I received a business degree from Virginia Highlands Community College.  I had my own business for twelve years, but God kept laying it on my heart to be a nurse.  I looked into it and was told that many aren’t accepted to nursing school when they first apply.  I applied to Virginia Highlands and was accepted on my first application.  I closed my business, took a leap of faith, and went to nursing school.  God provided the way.” 

Tammy added, “After receiving my associate degree in nursing from Virginia Highlands in May 2011, I decided I wanted to take my education further.  Since my son was still in high school, I needed to stay locally.  I had heard great things about King.  King admissions representative Josie Russell, who I knew, came by to talk with me about the program.  I love the spiritual aspect of King and the convenience.  I am able to take classes at both the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center as well as King’s main campus in Bristol.”  Currently, I serve as a public health nurse with People, Inc.  I’m getting ready to take the community and public health course at King and look forward to further incorporating my education into my everyday interactions as a nurse.”  Tammy will graduate with the RN-BSN degree from King in 2013. 

King nursing programs with summer start dates include the RN-BSN in Knoxville and online.  For fall 2013, in addition to Knoxville, nursing students have options of studying for their traditional BSN in Bristol and Kingsport.  The RN-BSN will be offered online, as well as in Bristol, Kingsport, Richlands, Morristown, Strawberry Plains, Harriman, Knoxville, and King’s newest locations in Blount County and Nashville.  King also offers the MSN degree with concentration options in Family Nurse Practice, Nursing Education, Nursing Administration, as well as a dual degree option of MSN and Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Kingsport and Knoxville.  The Nursing education, Nursing Administration and MSN/MBA concentrations for the MSN will also be offered online.

The King University School of Nursing is approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing, is a member of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

For more information on King University’s School of Nursing visit or


King University is a Presbyterian, master’s-level comprehensive university.  Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors and pre-professional degrees and concentration in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, digital media, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. For more information visit, call 800.362.0014, or email