Mars Hill University Nursing Students Spend the Summer on the Job

(seated, left to right) Anastasiya Yeremenko, Quenita Winston, Katie Williams. (standing, left to right) Cathy Franklin-Griffin, dean of the Judge-McRae School of Nursing; Eileen Ferrell, VALOR Program Administrator at the Charles George VA Medical Center.

Three nursing students in Mars Hill University’s Judge-McRae School of Nursing will spend the summer learning from and working with nurses at the Veterans Administration hospital in Asheville. Katie Williams of Arden, North Carolina; Quenita Winston of Montreat, North Carolina; and Anastasiya Yeremenko of Asheville, North Carolina, were selected for the VALOR Program at the Charles George VA Medical Center. VALOR stands for VA Learning Opportunities Residency. It gives rising seniors in nursing schools the opportunity work as residents in a clinical setting at a Veterans Administration medical facility.

Twenty-eight students from across the region applied for the four VALOR positions available this summer at the Asheville medical center. Following a rigorous selection process, Mars Hill students were selected to fill three of those positions. They’ll begin summer program in June and finish in August. The medical center encourages VALOR residents to return occasionally during the school year in order to maintain the connections they’ve made and refresh the skills developed over the summer.

Eileen Ferrell, who oversees the program for the Charles George VA, calls the VALOR program “by far, the most rewarding program for me,” of several that she coordinates in her role as a nursing professional development practitioner. The student residents will work side-by-side with a registered nurse preceptor who will oversee their training and clinical experience in a nursing specialty area such as critical care, operating room, emergency, or medical-surgical units. “I have to brag,” said Ferrell, “we have the best preceptors; they take new students or new nurses under their wing and groom them to be the best of the best.”

The VALOR students will learn to do in-depth patient assessment, recognize changes, do skilled tasks, and become a respected member of the team. The 10-week summer residency involves class attendance, unit meetings and educational offerings, and a weekly journaling requirement. Armenthis Lester, public affairs officer for the medical center, says 95 percent of VALOR residents end up being hired by the Charles George VA for their first professional nursing position.

About the Judge-McRae School of Nursing: