FY 23 SWVHEC Annual Report


Gabriel Perry, DNAP, graduated with the class of 2022 from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Nurse Anesthesia program. Gabe describes his experience in his own words: “I was born and raised in east Tennessee. I had always planned to go into the medical field. I graduated from East Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2017, and worked at Johnson City Medical Center in their cardiac intensive care unit until 2019 prior to continuing my education with VCU in 2020. A fellow student and friend in the program who shared the same goal of becoming a CRNA told me about VCU’s Nurse Anesthesia program at the Higher Education Center (in Abingdon, VA). Even though we were a distance site, the ability to see and speak in real time to our classmates and professors spread throughout Virginia made the experience personable and made it feel like we were one class instead of just several different sites.”

“After completion of the program, I have accepted a full-time position with Paragon Anesthesia at Johnson City Medical Center. The opportunity given by the Higher Education Center and VCU allowed me to stay close to my home and family while also receiving my education from one of the best programs in the country. I am extremely thankful to have learned from such great professors and amazing clinical instructors. After completing the program, I would tell others what I had always been told before going into it, which is that it is difficult but very rewarding. I plan to remain in the area for the foreseeable future and continue to give excellent care to the residents of my home.”

Connor Ratcliff successfully completed the Mount Rogers Regional Adult Education Program’s “Tools for Success” IET (Integrated Education and Training) scholarship program. Connor describes the program in his own words: “I first went to college for automotive but it wasn’t a good fit. My uncle is in the field of HVAC and it inspired me to try it out. College is a little harder than before but I push through it with a smile. Through this scholarship, I learned about hard work and never giving up. Everyone was helpful and it was an easy way to learn other subjects that I’d struggled with. It was very helpful having teachers to help encourage me as I went through it. I completed my goals and did good in math which was my worst subject. I would recommend the ‘Tools for Success’ program to future students as a way to earn a similar set of tools and learn that, no matter what, there is always going to be a way to succeed in your learnings. You should never give up on goals. When having doubts, just fight through them because there is no such thing as a failure. I never thought I’d do good in math but I surprised myself and I did amazing. I am ready for my next steps. I plan to just keep moving forward.”


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