Abingdon Site

The Department of Nurse Anesthesia has partnered with the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) in Abingdon, Virginia since 2004 to successfully deliver its entire didactic MSNA curriculum to qualified residents of Southwest Virginia and the surrounding area using state-of-the-art telecommunications technology. These technologies include two-way synchronous video-conferencing, satellite downlinks, and web-based lessons. Face-to-face instruction is additionally provided on-site by VCU faculty as well as simulation laboratory training. The Department in addition offers the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) program on this site.

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) was established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1991 to strengthen the economy of southwest Virginia through education and training of the workforce. Through partnership agreements, the SVHEC provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as professional development courses through distance technologies.


 Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center

VCU Southwest site graduation 2014 

Southwest Class of 2014


 Southwest Class of 2013

Didactic Curriculum
All didactic credit hours of the current MSNA and DNAP programs are delivered via two-way synchronous telecommunications technology to the SVHEC. Thus, students at the Abingdon site take classes simultaneously with the Richmond and all other site students. Our didactic curriculum is presented via live interactive video conferencing technology enhanced with desk top sharing. This allows students and faculty at the distant site to see, and speak with the students and faculty at all other sites directly in real time. A Web-Casting feature allows all presentations to be archived, enabling students both remote and local to review them at a later time from their home or library computers.


Classroom 130 at the SVHEC

Faculty routinely travel to Southwest Virginia to deliver lectures, and meet with students as well as to visit clinical affiliates. Additionally, there are dedicated teaching faculty in the region who deliver lectures from the Southwest Site to the Richmond Site.


Classroom at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Dr. Biddle lecturing

VCU Onsite Student Coordinator:
There is an on-site VCU Coordinator at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) to support the students administratively. Ms. Kathy Hietala is the on-site Student Coordinator at the SVHEC as well as the Executive Assistant to the Director of the Center, Dr. Rachel Fowlkes. Phone contact - (276) 619-4346

Abingdon Site Faculty
The Board of Visitors of Virginia Commonwealth University has appointed teaching faculty who live in the region to include:
- Site Manager: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Emily Dougherty, CRNA, Staff Nurse Anesthetist, Johnson City Medical Center
- Anesthesiologist Dr. Martin Eason, MD., JD, Director, Center for Experiential Learning, Quillen College of Medicine, Eastern Tennessee State University (ETSU) Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Nurse Anesthesia, VCU
- Anatomist Dr. Thomas Kwasigroch, Ph.D., Associate Dean Academic Affairs, Quillen College of Medicine, Eastern Tennessee State University (ETSU) Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Nurse Anesthesia, VCU

Laboratory Experiences
- Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC)
The SVHEC houses a simulation laboratory with a full body high-fidelity human simulator, anesthesia machine with monitors, and several anatomical practice models. This lab offers basic simulation training for the Abingdon site students and is maintained by VCU faculty.
- Quillen College of Medicine
Advanced simulation laboratory training for the Abingdon site is obtained at the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in it's Patient Simulation Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Martin Eason. Further, students from all sites participate in an anatomy lecture and laboratory series here at the Quillen College of Medicine, Cadaver Lab under the direction of Dr. Thomas Kwasigroch and Dr. Martin Eason.

Abingdon site sim lab
Simulation Lab at the SVHEC 

abingdon site sim lab
Simulation Lab at the SVHEC


Patient Simulator Laboratory, Quillen College of Medicine

Abingdon Site Clinical Hospital Affiliations
To provide a broad array of clinical experiences, the department has established clinical site placements in the southwest Virginia region and surrounding areas that range from a Level I trauma center to a small rural 80 bed hospital. Affiliates in Virginia are: Clinch Valley Medical Center, Lee Regional Medical Center, Smyth County Community Hospital, Norton Community Hospital, Salem VA Medical Center and Wythe County Community Hospital. Additionally, outside of Virginia: Bristol Regional Medical Center, Johnson City Medical Center, in Tennessee and Pikeville Medical Center in Pikeville, KY. Clinical affiliation agreements along with Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Program approvals are in place for all of the above sites.

Regional Anatomy and Cadaver Laboratory Series
Southwest and Richmond site students in class together at Quillen College of Medicine, ETSU.



Lecture Hall at ETSU, Quillen College of Medicine

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