Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday, along with leaders at Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health, stressed the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine and of training frontline health care workers in remarks made to reporters during a visit to VCU’s College of Health Professions.
Northam, M.D., received an in-depth tour of the college’s eight-story facility that included stops in the departments of Occupational Therapy, Nurse Anesthesia, Radiation Sciences and Medical Laboratory Sciences. He also observed some of the research taking place in Physical Therapy while meeting students, faculty and staff. Susan Parish, Ph.D., dean of the college, Arthur Kellermann, M.D., senior vice president for VCU Health Sciences and CEO of VCU Health System, and members of the dean’s office accompanied Northam during his visit.
“[Frontline health workers] are doing amazing work and to be able to train individuals that will go into the workforce is so important,” Northam said. “We found during COVID-19 how difficult this work is, day in and day out. People did an amazing job, not only in Virginia, but across this country. I commend all of our health providers across Virginia for doing the good work, and keeping Virginians as safe as we can.”
During the tour, Northam and Parish spoke about the college’s strong reputation, increased enrollment and nationally-ranked programs. Additionally, Parish said the opening of the building in 2019 allowed the college to increase its capacity for educating future health care professionals.
“Truly, the excellence of our college and its programs is because of the integration we enjoy with the VCU Health System,” Parish said. “The college has shown courage and professionalism throughout times of uncertainty, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we have accomplished.”
The College of Health Professions prepares health care professionals for roles in a variety of clinical, teaching and community health and wellness settings through its baccalaureate, master’s, post-graduate and doctoral programs. The college is home to five top-50 programs as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
While touring the Department of Nurse Anesthesia, Northam was able to communicate in real-time via video to doctoral classes taking place in Abingdon, Northern Virginia and Roanoke. With two-way synchronous video conferencing, satellite downlinks and web-based lessons, these students can complete their education in the nation’s No. 1 nurse anesthesia program remotely. Faculty also travel to these sites regularly to meet with students, deliver lectures and visit clinical training sites.
“We found during COVID-19 how difficult this work is, day in and day out. People did an amazing job, not only in Virginia, but across this country.”
Ralph Northam, M.D.
Northam expressed gratitude to the students, faculty and staff he encountered, thanking them for their continued efforts and encouraging them to keep up the good work.
“I’ve been able to take the tour, talk to a lot of the faculty, talk to a lot of the students — who, by the way, are very enthusiastic. They’re happy with the work they’re doing and actually looking forward to getting out into the workforce,” Northam said. “Programs like occupational therapy, physical therapy, nurse anesthetists, radiation technologists — all of these individuals will be trained to go out into the workforce and really take care of a lot of different patients.”
He also emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated.
“COVID-19 has been going on now for 16, 17 months. We had our first case in Virginia on March 7, ,” he said. “People are tired, and we can all help these people by rolling up our sleeves and getting a shot. That’s the answer.”
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