The mission of the Mountain Empire Community College Nursing Program (AAS in Nursing degree) and other nursing programs of the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is to provide affordable, community access to quality nursing education. The VCCS nursing programs prepare qualified students to provide safe, competent, entry-level nursing care in 21st century healthcare environments. Students are prepared to meet the ever-increasing complexity of the healthcare needs of the citizens of Virginia. Upon successful completion of the program, qualified graduates have the opportunity to apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) leading to licensure as a registered nurse.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the curriculum, students are expected to be able to incorporate competencies that accomplish the following outcomes:

Client-Centered CareProvide client- centered care promoting therapeutic relationships, caring behaviors, and self-determination across the lifespan for diverse populations.
Safety Practice safe nursing care that minimizes risk of harm across systems and client populations.
Clinical JudgmentDemonstrate nursing judgment through the use of clinical reasoning, the nursing process, and evidence-based practice in the provision of safe, quality care
Professional Behaviors Practice professional behaviors that encompass the legal/ethical framework while incorporating self-reflection, leadership and a commitment to recognize the value of life-long learning.
Quality Improvement Manage client care through quality improvement processes, information technology, and fiscal responsibility to meet client needs and support organizational outcomes
CollaborationDemonstrate principles of collaborative practice within the nursing and interdisciplinary teams fostering mutual respect and shared decision-making to achieve stated outcomes of care.

Program Description

The two-year Associate of Applied Science degree curriculum in Nursing is designed to prepare selected students to qualify as contributing members of the healthcare team, rendering direct patient care as beginning practitioners of nursing in a variety of healthcare settings. Track 1 offers eligible students the opportunity to complete the nursing degree program after two years of fulltime attendance (1 summer session and 4 semesters). This is a rigorous and academically challenging program.

Employment Opportunities
The occupational objective of nursing graduates is to secure and sustain employment as a registered nurse providing nursing care to individuals, families, communities, and/or populations in a variety of healthcare settings.

Program Requirements

An academic advisor will review your preparation in Mathematics and English with you. You’ll be guided to appropriate preliminary coursework to give you the greatest chance of success in this program. Admission to the nursing program is a selective and competitive process. The program is open to applicants who are free of any physical or mental condition that might adversely affect performance as a member of the nursing profession. In addition to the requirements for admission to the college, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • State recognized high school, home school (at least 18 years of age), or GED transcript.
  • College students must be in good standing with the most recently attended institution with a minimum GPA of 2.0
  • Demonstrated competency in science as evidenced by completion of high school biology (with laboratory) or high school chemistry (with laboratory) or the college equivalents or completion of BIO 141 and BIO 142 with no grade below a “C” prior to application deadline.
  • Demonstrated competency in mathematics as evidenced by placement out of MTE 1-5 on the Virginia Placement Test (VPT) or completion of MDE 10. For those who do not meet this requirement, all prescribed developmental work must be completed prior to application deadline.
  • Demonstrated competency in English as evidenced by placement into ENG 111. For those who do not meet this requirement, all prescribed developmental work must be completed prior to application deadline.
  • Completion of Nursing Application for each academic year interested in being considered for the nursing program.
  • Completion of the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) with a National Percentile Rank score of 45.
  • A 2.5 curricular grade point average (GPA) for the following six general education courses: BIO 141, ENG 111, SDV 100, PSY 230, LBR 105 (or ITE 119) and NUR 135 is required for the nursing program. These courses must be completed prior to enrollment in any nursing (NSG) courses.
  • Students must not have been enrolled in the first semester of the nursing program (NSG courses) more than one time. After two attempts in NSG courses, students are ineligible for admission consideration unless permission is obtained from the nursing program coordinator.

NOTE: Applicants who meet the requirements listed above will be ranked for admission using their ATI TEAS National Percentile Rank

Applications for the nursing program are currently being accepted. The application deadline is February 15 of each year, however late applicants may apply for consideration should there be space available.

The number of qualified applicants offered admission to the nursing program is contingent upon space available in the classrooms and nursing laboratories, the program’s access to sufficient clinical placements in the region’s healthcare settings in order to meet the program’s learning outcomes, and the number of qualified nursing faculty to teach students in classrooms, laboratories, and clinical settings. If the number of applicants exceeds the number of available qualified faculty and the amount of enrollment space available in the program, some applicants may not be accepted even if the minimum requirements for admission are met.

Transcripts from other Virginia Community Colleges are not required; however, any Virginia Community Colleges attended must be listed on both the Admissions Application and the Nursing Application.

All admission requirements (including English, science and math competencies) must be met and all documents submitted by the February 15 deadline. The Nursing (RN) program application is now available online and further details of the application process may be found at www.mecc.edu/forms.

Although we welcome applications from residents of other jurisdictions, first priority will be given to all qualified applicants who are domiciled residents of Lee, Wise, Scott, and Dickenson Counties and the City of Norton, and to Virginia domiciled residents not having access to a given program at their local community college, provided such students apply for admission to the program prior to registration or by a deadline established by the college and that they meet the minimum admission requirements. A domiciled resident is one who has been a permanent resident in the locality or state for the twelve months before the program application deadline. In addition, residents of localities with which the college has clinical-site affiliation may receive equal consideration for admission. If you have a question regarding your jurisdiction status, please contact Enrollment Services immediately upon applying to the program.

The nursing program is dependent on use of local clinical agencies to meet the experiential or clinical learning needs of its students. In order to protect patients and visitors, as well as students, clinical agencies require that each student have proof of completion of the following:

  1. Required Student Forms
  2. Annual Student Statement of Health form
  3.  Student Information, Physical and Immunization forms. The nursing program physical examination form must be completed by a medical practitioner, MD, PA or CNP.
    • A) Immunizations include Tetanus, Mumps-Measles-Rubella (MMR), Varicella, and Hepatitis B and COVID.
    • B) Proof of negative two-step TB Skin Test (TST) or proof of negative approved TB screening blood test or if a person has a previously documented positive TB screening test or a documented diagnosis of TB or Latent TB Infection (LTBI) in the past, perform an annual risk assessment/symptom check with your healthcare provider. Chest x-ray is only required if symptoms develop.
    • C) Documentation of ability to perform physical demands required in direct patient care activities.
  4. Purchase a background check, drug screen, and Medical Document Package.
  5. Clearance of criminal background check and drug testing.
  6. Copy of course completion card for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) , American Heart Association, “Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers” completed during the summer (May 15-August 15) prior to admission to NSG courses and maintained throughout the program.
  7. Additional annual immunization requirements: Flu immunizations are required by most healthcare agencies and are usually available in fall semester.
  8. Personal health insurance.
  9. Other mandatory clinical facility requirements including professional responsibilities and patient confidentiality.

Students should not attempt to complete any of these requirements until they have been admitted to the nursing program and attended the mandatory orientation session.

The cost of these requirements is the responsibility of the student.

Prior to enrollment in any NSG course, the student must provide the required clinical documentation.

Additional Information

NCLEX-RN Licensure Examination Pass Rates, Program Completion, and Employment Data

Year of Graduation

Program Completion Rate

Program NCLEX-RN Pass Rate*

National NCLEX-RN Pass Rate All USGraduates*

2018 (N=190)




2019 (N= 180)




2020 (N= 197)**




2021 (N=57)***




2022 (N=50)




*NCLEX National Statistics from www.NCSBN.org
**2020 were the last graduates of the Virginia Appalachian Tri-College Nursing Program at MECC
***2021 were the first graduates of the MECC Nursing Program

****Previous completion rates calculated by student completing in 150% of length of program.  ACEN changed formula to graduating on time.  This calculation reflects that formula change.

Accreditation and State Approval

The nursing program is approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), 3390 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta, GA 30326, 404-975-5000, www.acenursing.org. ACEN is officially recognized as the national accrediting agency for nursing education by the Council on Post-Secondary Accreditation (COPA) and by the U.S. Department of Education.

United States Department of Education regulation regarding nursing programs and status of licensure


Meets state educational requirements for licensure

Does not meet the state educational requirements for licensure

MECC has not made a determination on licensure reciprocity




U.S. Virgin Islands



Sources cited:

The Uniform Licensing Requirements (ULRs) are found at: https://www.ncsbn.org/NLC_ULRs.pdf

States currently in the NLC are found at:  https://www.ncsbn.org/public-files/nlcmemberstates.pdf

A list of all state requirements is found at:  https://www.ncsbn.org/14730.htm

Statement for Nursing program (ADN):  

Pursuant to United States Department of Education (US DOE) regulation 34 CFR 668.43 (a) (5) (v), the Mountain Empire Community College Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program provides the following information for all prospective and current students:

The Mountain Empire Community College ADN program meets all Virginia Board of Nursing requirements for pre-licensure nursing education programs in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  In addition, the ADN nursing program at Mountain Empire Community College located in Big Stone Gap, Virginia is accredited by the:

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
3390 Peachtree Road, NE , Suite 1400 Atlanta, GA 30326
(404) 975-5000

The most recent accreditation decision made by the ACEN Board of Commissioners for the ADN nursing program is Continued Accreditation with Conditions.

View the public information disclosed by the ACEN regarding this program at http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programSearch.htm.

The Commonwealth of Virginia participates with multiple (see table) other states in the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) National Licensing Compact (NLC) to allow nurses licensed in one state to provide nursing care across state lines in other compact states. Information listed is current per NCSBN as of July 1, 2020.

Mountain Empire Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Clinical Contracts

Individual contracts are in effect with each affiliate clinical agency and these contracts differ in requirements for students. If students cannot comply with these contractual requirements, they will not be able to participate in clinical
activities and will be asked to withdraw from the program. In general, contracts include the following:

  • Clinical agencies reserve the right to dismiss a student from their agency at any time with due cause. This will be done with advance notice except in an emergency.
  • Published policies of the clinical agency must be followed.
  • Students must wear the proper uniform, adhering to program and healthcare agency standards.
  • Students must attend and complete the healthcare agency’s orientation program prior to participating in clinical activities.
  • Clinical agencies require that all students have documentation of ability to perform the physical demands required in direct patient care activities.
  • Students must meet health, immunity, and immunization requirements.
  • Student releases clinical agencies, its agents and employees from any liability for any injury or death to self or damage to personal property arising out of the clinical agreement or use of the clinical agency’s facilities. Students must sign an Assumption of Risk document that serves to provide a general outline of hazards encountered within nursing. This list includes exposure to infectious, biological, chemical, environmental/mechanical, and psychosocial hazards, as well as, loss of personal property.
  • Student is financially responsible for any medical care required while in the clinical setting.
  • Student must provide current copy of course completion card for American Heart Association CPR BLS for Healthcare Provider.
  • Student must successfully complete HIPAA training as part of nursing orientation.
  • Student must complete a criminal background check and drug screen, which may be repeated during the program.
    The health care agency may deny a student participation in direct patient care based on results of the criminal background check and drug screen.
  • Demonstration of professional behavior is expected at all clinical learning experiences. Faculty will direct a student to leave the learning environment if unacceptable behaviors are observed.
  • Clinical agencies may require personal health insurance as a condition for student placement.
  • Student must submit required clinical documents with each clinical rotation. A student who does not meet published deadlines for submission forfeits his/her enrollment.
  • If a student is dismissed by a clinical agency, alternate placement (if available) will require disclosure of information related to the dismissal. The student must consent to disclosure through completion of a FERPA form.

Important Note: All prospective students are required to be eligible to participate in all clinical facilities where the nursing program is contracted to provide clinical instruction and supervision. Students who are not eligible for rehire in any facility may be excluded from clinical experiences, and thus may forfeit their seats in the nursing program. Students will be asked to disclose, upon admission, if they are current or former employees of any regional healthcare agencies.

Course Requirements

The student is required to complete the sequence of courses as outlined by the curriculum pathway.

  • All courses, general education and nursing, must be completed in sequence prior to continuing in the program. Exceptions due to unusual circumstances must be approved by the program Coordinator.
  •  A student must have a “C” or above in theory plus “satisfactory” in clinical performance in all nursing courses to remain in the program. A grade of “C” or above in any related requirements is a prerequisite for continuing in the nursing program.
  • The student is required to complete a sequence of courses and learning experiences provided at the college and selected community agencies such as hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, physicians’ offices and comparable facilities. The nursing faculty will observe and evaluate the student’s suitability for nursing and direct patient care.
  • The nursing program faculty reserves the right to recommend, through appropriate channels, the withdrawal of any student who does not exhibit suitable demeanor/attendance.

Criminal Background Checks/Barrier Crimes

The State Board of Nursing has the authority to deny license to any applicant who has violated any of the provisions of 54.1-3007 of the Code of Virginia. Most healthcare organizations are prohibited from hiring persons who have been convicted of certain criminal acts (For a list of crimes under this category refer to the Virginia Board of Nursing webpage under the heading Practitioner Resources>Guidance Documents. Then choose Licensure/Applicants under the drop-down box and select Article 90-55 “Joint statement of the Department of Health and the Department of Health Professions on Impact of Criminal Convictions on Nursing Licensure or Certification and Employment in Virginia, revised November 2015”). Students with convictions or positive drug tests may be prohibited from clinical practice and may not be able to complete the program requirements.

Financial Requirements

In addition to the usual college tuition and fees, the nursing program requires pre-admission testing and other expenses as identified below. Students are responsible for these costs as well as the cost of transportation to and from the college and health agencies used for clinical experiences.

Item Cost
Pre-Admission Testing (Test of Essential Academic Skills or TEAS) $70.00
Uniforms/Shoes/Watch/Stethoscope $400.00
Standardized Progressive Testing Program $1440.00
Textbooks/Electronic Resources $1800.00
CastleBranch© Criminal Background Check, Drug Screen, Document Manager $133.00
Physical Exam, Immunizations, TB test $250.00
AHA CPR BLS for Healthcare Providers $157.00
Estimated In-state Tuition 67 credit hours @ $157.00 per credit hour $10,519.00
NCLEX-RN Application Fees $436.00
Transportation (to and from college and clinical agencies) Variable
NOTE: These costs are estimates and are subject to change without notification to faculty or students.

Core Performance Standards for Admission to and Progression through the Nursing Program

In addition to the nursing program’s admission requirements, the nursing program sets forth eligibility requirements by citing the core performance standards. The standards set forth cognitive, sensory, affective and psychomotor performance requirements for every nursing student. Each core performance standard is accompanied by examples of activities nursing students and nurses are required to perform while executing nursing care. Students must be able to demonstrate satisfactory application of these core performance standards in classroom, clinical and laboratory settings, with or without reasonable accommodations, during the course of the nursing program.

Requirement Performance Standard Examples
Critical Thinking Critical thinking ability sufficient for clinical judgment and delivery of safe client care. Identify cause and effect relationships in clinical situations; evaluate effectiveness of nursing interventions; use the scientific method in the development of nursing interventions; prioritize nursing tasks and solve problems.
Quantitative literacy sufficient for clinical judgment and delivery of safe client care. Ability to take measurements; perform arithmetic and numerical operations (such as is necessary for calculating medication dosages and rates); read and record graphical displays of scientific and real-time physiologic data.
Interpersonal and emotional skills sufficient for professional interactions with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds. Establish rapport with clients and colleagues; ability to engage in conflict resolution, demonstrate peer accountability; adapt to changing environments/stressors; perform multiple responsibilities concurrently; establish therapeutic boundaries.
Communication Ability for professional interactions with others in verbal, non-verbal and written form. Explain treatment procedures; initiate health teaching; document and interpret nursing actions and client responses; ability to interpret common non-verbal expressions indicating pain, discomfort, anxiety and other behavioral states.
Physical abilities sufficient for movement from room to room and in small spaces; ability to execute movements required to provide care and treatment to clients in all health settings including functioning in emergency situations. Move around in client rooms, work spaces and treatment areas; administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation; walk and/or stand for prolonged periods during a 12-hour shift. Perform lifting, as required, up to 50 pounds.
Motor Skills Gross and fine motor abilities sufficient for providing safe, effective nursing care. Ability to bend, squat, kneel, climb stairs, push, pull, reach for extended periods and assist in lifting, transferring, ambulating and positioning clients of all age groups and weights; calibrate and use equipment such as IV pumps; manipulate small equipment and containers such as syringes, vials and medication packages.
Hearing Auditory ability sufficient for monitoring and assessing health needs. Ability to hear alarms and other emergency signals, normal speaking level sounds, cries for help and auscultatory sounds on assessment.
Visual Visual ability sufficient for observation and assessment necessary in client care. Ability to observe client’s condition and responses to treatments; ability to discern colors and changes in color shading; ability to read handwritten and printed data such as orders, medication labels, calibrations on syringes; ability to read chart content and interpret data correctly by clearly viewing monitors.
Tactile Sense Tactile ability sufficient for physical assessment. Ability to sufficiently perform physical assessments including palpation, pulses, changes in skin temperature and anatomical appearance.

Student Accommodations Statement
The nursing program is committed to the policies set forth by the Virginia Community College System regarding disabilities and reasonable accommodations. Students may request academic accommodations for disabilities through the Office of Student Services. That office will evaluate the request and make recommendations for appropriate and reasonable accommodations, which the student will provide to the instructor. Individuals requiring temporary parking accommodations due to short-term illness should also contact Student Services. All correspondence will be kept confidential. You may visit the Disability Services web page www.mecc.edu/disabilityservices. The nursing program recommends that you contact the Disability Services Counselor for an appointment at least 2 weeks prior to the beginning of nursing classes. Your success is contingent upon your ability to fulfill the core performance standards of the program with or without reasonable accommodations.

Reapplication/Readmission/Program Progression Process

All courses in the curriculum, both general education and nursing, must be completed in sequence prior to progressing to the next
semester. Students must earn a minimum grade of “C” (80) in all nursing courses, a minimum grade of “C” in all non-nursing courses and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 to remain eligible for continued enrollment in the nursing program. A student may enroll only in the nursing courses listed in his/her current semester in the nursing program. Clinical performance in a course is graded as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory. A student who does not meet the clinical learning outcomes will fail the course. In addition, during the NSG 106/100, 115, 170, 210/211, and 252 courses, a Comprehensive Drug Calculation Exam (CDCE) will be administered to verify dosage calculation skills. Students must achieve at least 90 percent of maximum score on the CDCE with no more than three attempts in order to achieve a passing grade in the course.

  • Students who are not successful in any first semester nursing (NSG) course must reapply to the nursing program. Reenrollment must occur no later than three years from successful completion of NSG 100 or 115, otherwise the student will
    have to repeat all nursing courses.
  • Any student who drops or withdraws from NSG 106 or NSG 200 must also drop or withdraw from NSG 100 due to the inability to complete clinical requirements.
  • A student may continue in NSG 200 regardless of dropping or withdrawing from NSG 100 and/or NSG 106.
  • Any student who drops or withdraws from NSG 252 or NSG 270 must withdraw from the other course as they are corequisites.
  • A student who has 2 academic failures (grades below a “C”) in nursing courses, other than first semester courses, will be ineligible for reenrollment in the program unless the student obtains licensure as a practical nurse. The student may then apply to Tracks 2 and 4.
  • A student who wishes to reenter the nursing curriculum at any other level (e.g., NSG 152, 170, 210, 211, 230, 252, 270) must write a letter to the nursing program coordinator requesting readmission in the semester prior to the semester of enrollment. Each student’s application for readmission will be considered by the nursing faculty and the decision to readmit will be based on additional requested data, prior performance in the nursing program, and space availability. Based on the course(s) that must be repeated, the student who is readmitted may be required to complete a skills competency course or demonstrate competency in critical nursing skills before progressing to the next level.
  • According to the VCCS Policy 5.7.4, “A student will normally be limited to two enrollments in the same credit course.” Any exception to this policy must be approved by the Nursing Program Coordinator and the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Workforce Solutions.

A student must obtain permission from the Nursing Coordinator to continue in the Nursing Program under the following conditions:

  • Repeating a course with a grade below “C”;
  • Withdrawal from a nursing course;
  • Cumulative GPA below 2.0.

Transfer of Nursing Statement
Students seeking to transfer credit from nursing programs at other institutions will be considered on an individual basis. Students
must meet the admission requirements identified by the college and the nursing program. The student may be asked to provide
course descriptions, documentation of completed direct patient care clinical hours, course syllabi, achievement or progressive
testing scores, and selected data from the course instructor or program coordinator in order to determine placement in the nursing
program. Consideration will be subject to availability of space. Since there frequently are differences among nursing programs,
students wishing to transfer should be aware that there may be an interruption in program progression and courses may need to be
repeated. Applicants must be in good standing at their previous college with a “C” average or better and must provide documentation of eligibility to return to that nursing program as well as documentation of the number of hours of clinical experience providing direct patient care supervised by a qualified instructor. Nursing courses which are being transferred must have been completed within three (3) years prior to admission to the nursing program.

Decisions on admission offers to transferring applicants will be determined by the nursing program coordinator following official
transcript analysis, review of completed nursing course outlines, and space and faculty availability. A transferring student must
demonstrate expected level proficiencies by testing including demonstration of competency in critical skills.

For More Information, Contact:

Name Office Phone Email
Deborah Clarkston Phillips-Taylor Hall Office 136 276-523-9009 dclarkston@mecc.edu
Donna Cluesman Phillips-Taylor Hall Office 131 276-523-9011 dcluesman@mecc.edu
Kristen Clark Phillips-Taylor Hall Office 139 276-523-9018 kclark@mecc.edu
Amanda Davis Phillips-Taylor Hall Office 133 276-523-9013 adavis@mecc.edu
Amanda Robbins Phillips-Taylor Hall Office 135 276-523-9020 arobbins@mecc.edu
Deborah Wright Phillips-Taylor Hall Office 132 276-523-5457 dwright@mecc.edu
Kim Rasnick Robb Hall Office 205 276-523-9019 krasnick@mecc.edu
Kim Dorton, Dean, Health Sciences Phillips-Taylor Hall Office 356 276-523-9014 kdorton@mecc.edu