ETSU, Holston Valley Hold Inaugural White-Coat Ceremony for Joint Accelerated BSN Program

Nov. 11, 2016 – An innovative new education and training program developed by East Tennessee State University and Wellmont Health System achieved another important milestone with a special event for the inaugural class of 19 students.

The first white coat ceremony for the ETSU–Holston Valley Medical Center Accelerated BSN program was held Thursday, Nov. 10. Leaders of the university and the hospital cloaked members of the class in their white coats, and the students then recited the nursing student oath.

“This is a significant event for these students and our partnership as we work collaboratively to increase the number of nurses available to serve our patients,” said Dr. Lisa Smithgall, Holston Valley’s vice president of patient care services and the program’s co-director. “Since we embarked on this initiative, our collective enthusiasm has grown, and we look forward to working closely with these students to ensure they reach their full potential as nurses.”

ETSU and Wellmont unveiled the new program in August as a way to address the acute nursing shortage in the Tri-Cities area and sustain the delivery of quality health care to the region.

The program can accommodate as many as 20 new students each fall and spring semester, and those who are enrolled are on track to complete their education and training in five semesters. However, they must complete prerequisite coursework before they are accepted into the program.

In this joint venture, the university provides faculty for all classroom instruction at the ETSU at Kingsport Downtown campus. Faculty for all clinical training and instruction comes from Wellmont, with the training taking place primarily at Holston Valley but also at Wexford House, a skilled care facility. As part of the program, the two organizations are also involved in other aspects of student training, including interprofessional education and simulation.

Wellmont will give program graduates priority consideration for nursing and nurse tech jobs at its facilities.

“This is our future and we’re in good hands with these students,” said Dr. Wendy Nehring, dean of ETSU’s College of Nursing and the program’s co-director. “They are here because they want to save a life, to ease a mind, to give a hand. They are here because they care about others and are passionate about being the best nurses they can be.”

For more information about the program, please contact the ETSU College of Nursing at 423-439-4578 or visit