Virginia provides numerous opportunities for prospective nursing students to begin or to advance their nursing skills. From Christian colleges like Liberty University in Lynchburg to technical schools such as Riverside School of Health Careers in Newport News, students can begin their nursing careers with diplomas and associate degrees. More advanced degrees are offered in larger institutions such as the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where students can find a variety of programs that lead to the BSN, the RN-to-BSN, the MSN and post-master’s degrees and certificates and a PhD program designed to prepare scholars who will advance nursing knowledge through participation in the study of particular phenomena and in the identification of central domains related to these phenomena. Graduates are prepared to engage in continuing scholarship and research which both contributes to the knowledge base of the discipline of nursing, and addresses bio-ethical issues in nursing and health care. All PhD nursing students receive two years of full scholarship and are awarded a graduate assistant position. They also offer a BSN-to-PhD option as well as a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) program. Students who seek higher degrees also can find opportunities at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, George Mason University in Fairfax and Hampton University.
Statewide, the average salaries for LPN, RN and specialty nurses range between $17,000 and $92,000 annually, depending upon degree earned, years in the field, expertise and size of the health facility. Outside offering some of the highest salaries nationwide, Virginia provides hundreds of nursing opportunities through its hospitals, clinics and special care units. One of the largest state employers is Inova Health System, a nonprofit based in northern Virginia comprised of hospitals and other health services including emergency and urgent care centers, home care, nursing homes, mental health and blood donor services, and wellness classes throughout the state. Another large employer is Sentara in Norfolk, the largest health care provider in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina serving more than 2 million residents. Sentara operates more than 87 care giving sites, including acute care hospitals, outpatient care campuses, nursing centers and assisted living centers. In the western region of the state, Carilion Health System provides employment opportunities in facilities located in Bedford, Rocky Mount, Pearisburg, Roanoke, Radford, Tazewell and Wytheville. Other cities and towns, such as Lynchburg, Chesapeake, Richmond and Newport News offer opportunities for nursing graduates to find employment as an LPN or RN or to seek careers in administration or in specialty options.