Loudoun County school leaders may phase out or relocate the Licensed Practical Nursing program that’s housed at the Academies of Loudoun in an effort to free up space for three new programs.
The School Board’s Ad Hoc Committee for the Academies of Loudoun has recommended that the longtime course offered through Monroe Advanced Technical Academy be phased out, meaning it would stop enrolling new students but the program’s 16 current students would not be effected by the change. The committee’s vote follows a recommendation from school administrators, who say they want to open up more options for more students. The LPN program would be replaced by three new programs: Mental Health Technology, Medical Systems Technology and Biomedical Technology. That would double the number of pathways for high school students interested in the health and medical sciences and it would create space for 56 more students than the current LPN program can enroll.
While staff members initially suggested phasing out the program altogether, most board members at their meeting Tuesday said they’d prefer to see the program relocated.
Assistant Superintendent Ashley Ellis, who oversees the Instruction Department, said she is in talks with Northern Virginia Community College about possibly moving the program to its Loudoun campus. She also said that there is enough space at the new Academies of Loudoun to launch at least one of the three programs in the fall of 2019 without yet phasing out or relocating the LPN course. “And that gives us time to explore more relocation options,” she said. “We’re looking at all options.”
School Board member Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) and Joy Maloney (Broad Run) said they were concerned that the staff initially recommended phasing out the program only because they need the space for three new courses. Ellis explained that the course requires four full-time teachers for only 16 students, and only a quarter of the students who take Loudoun’s LPN course go on to complete the final post-graduate course and earn their license.
Turgeon said she spoke to an administrator at Inova Loudoun Hospital, who said more than 50 high school students took part in the Job for a Day program at the hospital. “The interest is there so I would hate to see this fall aside. … My hope is that we do this in a way that we don’t have a gap where it’s not offered for a year or two.”
During the board’s meeting Tuesday, student Carolyn Carey urged the board to keep the LPN program intact. “My very own doctor has informed me that her office hires many LPNs that have graduated from this program,” she said. “This program is a catalyst for anyone interested in the medical field, especially nursing.”
Ellis told board members she wold keep them informed as she continues looking at options to relocate the program.