Heads of schools in Loudoun County may phase out or relocate the Licensed Practical Nurse program that is housed in Loudoun academies in an effort to free up space for three new programs.
The school council’s ad hoc committee for Loudoun academies recommended that the long-standing course offered by the Monroe Advanced Technical Academy be phased out, meaning it would stop enrolling new students, but that 16 current students in the program would not be affected by the change. The committee’s vote follows a recommendation from school administrators, who say they want to open more options for more students. The LPN program would be replaced by three new programs: Mental Health Technology, Medical Systems Technology, and Biomedical Technology. This would double the number of routes for high school students interested in health sciences and medicine and create space for 56 more students than the current LPN program can accommodate.
While staff initially suggested removing the program altogether, most board members at their Tuesday meeting said they would prefer to see the program outsourced.
Deputy Superintendent Ashley Ellis, who oversees the education department, said she was in talks with Northern Virginia Community College to potentially move the program to its Loudoun campus. She also said there was enough space in the new Loudoun Academies to launch at least one of the three programs in the fall of 2019 without yet removing or moving the IAA course. âAnd that gives us time to explore more resettlement options,â she said. âWe are looking at all the options. “
School board members Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) and Joy Maloney (Broad Run) said they were concerned staff initially recommended phasing out the program just because it needed space for three new classes. Ellis explained that the course requires four full-time teachers for just 16 students, and only a quarter of the students who take Loudoun’s LPN course complete the last postgraduate course and graduate.
Turgeon said he spoke to an administrator at Inova Loudoun Hospital, who said more than 50 high school students participated in the Job for a Day program at the hospital. âThe interest is there so I would hate to see this fall from the side. â¦ I hope we will do this in such a way that we don’t have a gap where it isn’t available for a year or two.
At the board meeting on Tuesday, student Carolyn Carey urged the board to keep the LPN program intact. âMy own doctor has informed me that his office is hiring a lot of LPNs who have graduated from this program,â she said. âThis program is a catalyst for anyone interested in the medical field, especially nursing. “
Ellis told board members she will keep them informed as she continues to research options to move the program.