The technology that Virginia Western has acquired. Courtesy of Virginia Western.

Virginia Western Community College has purchased a new state-of-the-art virtual technology to prepare students to deliver life-saving cancer treatments, according to a release from the school.

The Virtual Environment Radiation Trainer, purchased this year using pandemic relief funding, creates a virtual radiation lab environment where students can practice skills and complete assessments. 

Another view of the technology. Courtesy of Virginia Western.

The need for this equipment was first identified during the pandemic when students were learning remotely and practical application of skills in hospitals and clinics was halted. 

The VERT equipment was first used by radiation therapy students in the spring semester. A classroom had to be retrofitted to allow for the equipment. Essentially, it’s a three-dimensional platform that allows students to see inside a patient to understand the route the radiation therapy beam follows when it goes through the body to accurately pinpoint cancerous tumors and its effects on healthy tissue. Students can access the equipment remotely on a laptop or phone. 

“Our students won’t be as impacted if they are forced to learn virtually again,” said Marty Sullivan, dean of health professions at Virginia Western, in a statement. “For our students, hands-on learning is so critical, and this equipment ensures continuity of learning and skills development. It is the newest and most advanced equipment available for radiation therapy learning.”

Virginia Western was able to use money from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to purchase the $200,000 equipment. Northern Virginia Community College students can enroll in Virginia Western’s radiation therapy classes through a joint venture affiliation agreement with the college, and this new equipment allows them to complete the curriculum at a remote location without traveling to the Roanoke campus. 

Admission to Virginia Western’s associate of applied science in radiation oncology degree program is quite selective and can be completed in five continuous semesters, Sullivan said. With this degree, graduates can get jobs in a radiation oncology department in a hospital or treatment center, the school said. Recent Virginia Western graduates have found employment at Carilion Clinic and LewisGale Medical Center, as well as larger cancer treatment facilities such as Johns Hopkins University, Duke University and Memorial Sloan Kettering.

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Appalachian College of Pharmacy extends application deadline

The deadline to apply for admission to the Appalachian College of Pharmacy for fall semester 2022 has been extended.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and PharmCAS have allowed the extension of the application deadline for individual applicants from June 1, 2022 at midnight to July 5, 2022.

Anyone who has not yet applied, but who is interested in applying, is asked to email to request the deadline extension code and further instructions for how to apply for admission.

The Appalachian College of Pharmacy offers Virginia’s only three-year program leading to the doctor of pharmacy degree.

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Chris Wikstrom. Courtesy of P&H.

P&H names vice president of academic and student success

After a nationwide search, Christopher Wikstrom has been named vice president of academic and student success services at Patrick & Henry Community College.

Originally from Blacksburg, Wikstrom began his educational career as a math teacher with Montgomery County Public Schools before taking a similar position with Patrick County Public Schools, where he currently resides.  Wikstrom came to P&HCC in 2011 as a math professor before becoming the director of institutional research and effectiveness and interim dean of academic success and college transfer. Wikstrom is a graduate of Virginia Tech where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and Old Dominion University where he earned his doctorate in 2018.

Wikstrom begins his tenure as vice president of academic and student success services on July 1.

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Patrick & Henry Community College distinguished alumni for 2022. Courtesy of P&H.

P&H recognizes distinguished alumni

The Patrick & Henry Community College Foundation honored twelve P&HCC graduates as distinguished alumni at the awards dinner on June 10 at Chatmoss Country Club.

Each year, P&HCC recognizes alumni who have brought distinction to themselves through academic achievement, career success and community involvement. Alumni who have graduated with a degree or certificate or have taken a minimum of 24 credit hours from P&HCC and have demonstrated success within their field of expertise and have provided significant service in local, state, or national organizations are eligible for nomination. 

This year’s award recipients are: Jennifer Ashworth, Ann Blankenship, Crystal Booth, Mark Gilbert, Daniel Hennis Sr., Gary Hollandsworth, Robert Lovell, Melissa Martin, Dr. Melissa Smith, Kristy Walker, Jason Wood and Shonna Woods.