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New College & Radford Partner to Address Regional Needs

As a solution to the growing demand for healthcare services, Radford University is expanding its presence at New College Institute (NCI) in Southern Virginia. Radford will offer a spring course entitled Substance Use and Dependency — an elective for students within the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at NCI.

The Master of Social Work program at Radford University focuses on community-based family practice, allowing students to acquire a blend of family practice skills coupled with an understanding and appreciation of human diversity.

A Virginia Employment Commission report projects a 20.6% increase in healthcare through 2024 in the West Piedmont planning district. Issues such as substance abuse, mental health awareness, and aging population care have led to an increased need for licensed social workers and licensed counselors.

More than a dozen organizations including treatment and medical centers in Martinsville and the surrounding area have posted ads in the last thirty days to hopefully find substance abuse and disorder counselors according to Real-Time Intelligence, which searches online job postings to provide a clear picture of jobs that employers need to fill today.

Greg Preston, Executive Director at Piedmont Community Services commends the partnership and the program. “We are so grateful to New College and Radford for offering this program. There is a tremendous need across the region for MSWs and this will help us provide optimal services to the individuals and families we serve.”

Piedmont Community Services and other regional community service boards have constant job openings, many going a year or more before a qualified candidate is identified. These needs underscore the mission of NCI: to respond to industry demand by creating educational opportunities.

Health and human services is one of four academic areas of focus for NCI. The New College Institute currently offers a Bachelor of Social Work from Longwood University in which students participate in internships during their studies. Graduates are employed throughout the region and often inquire about a master’s degree.

“Our alumni enjoy the NCI experience and want to continue to advance in their careers. Employers consistently inquire about the MSW for their employees. Adding this master’s program will help the whole community,” says Janie Brazier, Off-Site Coordinator and Instructor for the Longwood University Social Work program.

Radford University has offered several programs and professional development opportunities at NCI in the fields of education, nursing, and mental health, and currently offers a certificate in Cybersecurity.

New College Institute is a state agency located in Martinsville that provides access to academic degree programs, industry credentials, and professional learning experiences through partnerships throughout the Commonwealth. NCI prepares students for regional and statewide career opportunities and participation in collaborative community change to promote regional economic prosperity and community transformation.