Nursing students face limited options following ITT Tech closure

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - It's been roughly two months since ITT Technical Institutes nationwide closed. The move left students scrambling for a place to continue their education.

While some have found success in transitioning, for others, transferring credits has seemed impossible. Educators said placing former ITT Tech nursing students presents a unique challenge because credits don't transfer easily due to varying curriculum.

About 2,300 students in Virginia were enrolled at ITT Tech when the school closed down in September. Close to 80 of those students where part of the nursing program in Salem, according to officials from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

Due to the nature of the course load, credits aren't transferring and students are being forced to start over.

"Still trying to pick up the pieces and try to figure out what's next for us some of the students have changed their career paths all together," said Samantha Smith, a former ITT Tech nursing student.

She and other students said it's been nearly impossible to transfer credits from their ITT Tech Registered Nurse program.

"Their course work wasn't designed with transferring in mind" said Brooke Ferguson, the director of enrollment at Virginia Western Community College, one school offering to assist former ITT tech student where possible. "So when it comes to attempting to transfer those credits you inherently encounter challenges."

Officials at SCHEV said challenges for nursing students, in particular, include curriculum. Programs differ from one school to the next, which makes it harder to transition.

"For example, some students start clinicals in their first semester getting that hands-on experience. Some don't start clinicals until later on," said Ferguson. "The nature of those clinicals can be different depending on the focus."

In an effort to help displaced ITT Tech students, Virginia Western developed "challenge exams" as one option.

"They can bring their previous coursework and that transcript for us to review and potentially qualify for advanced standing credits so that they are not starting over, particularly in the field of criminal justice," said Ferguson.

While it may help some, the challenge exams come as little relief to former ITT Tech nursing students whose credits won't transfer. Students said another issue is the extra time it will take to graduate as an RN. Smith said she now plans to start over and pursue a Licensed Practical Nurse program instead.

"Most of us still have that dream and if we want to keep that dream, we have to find another way to go about it. Whether it's find another health care field or like me find another way," continued Smith.

Officials at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia said they are working with the Board of Nursing to find a resolution for former ITT Tech nursing students.

For more information on resources for former ITT Technical Institute students visit http://governor.virginia.gov/ITT or https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/itt#more-info