COVID-19 boosters available at Pellissippi State this Monday

Pax gets his COVID-19 vaccine
Pellissippi State’s mascot, Pax, and Nursing adjunct instructor Pakesta Washington encourage anyone in the community who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine to drop by the Hardin Valley Campus on Aug. 30 for a Vaccinate and Educate Fair.

Pellissippi State Community College will offer COVID-19 boosters for immunocompromised people at its Vaccinate and Educate Fair next week. 

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held noon-4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30, outside the Bagwell Center for Media and Art on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. 

Pellissippi State Nursing faculty and students will be administering both the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, which was granted full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Aug. 23, and the one-dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Pellissippi State also will offer boosters of Pfizer for those who had their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least eight months ago.  Please bring your original vaccine card. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine, as outlined in this Aug. 18 media statement. This includes people who have: 

  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies 
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy 
  • Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy) 
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome) 
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection 
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory 

Pellissippi State is working with the nonprofit Faith Leaders Initiative and New Directions Healthcare to offer the Vaccinate and Educate Fair for the community. Education stations will provide information about COVID-19 including handouts explaining what the COVID-19 virus is, how vaccines work to combat it and why common myths about COVID-19 and vaccinations are untrue. Free popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones will be available for the entire family. 

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TBR honors Richard B. Ray, Blount Memorial Hospital for support of higher education 

Richard Ray at lectern, accepting Regents' Award on Aug. 17, 2021
Richard B. Ray of Knoxville, a co-founder of tnAchieves, accepts the Regents’ Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at Pellissippi State on Aug. 17.

Richard B. Ray of Knoxville, a co-founder of tnAchieves, and Blount Memorial Hospital were honored this month by the Tennessee Board of Regents for their longstanding support of education. Both were nominated by Pellissippi State Community College President L. Anthony Wise Jr. 

Ray received the 2021 Regents’ Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at a Ribbon Cutting Celebration for Pellissippi State’s Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on Aug. 17, while Blount Memorial’s chief executive officer Don Heinemann and board vice chair David Pesterfield accepted the 2021 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy at a Blount Partnership event Aug. 25. 

Established in 2001, these awards honor individuals, companies and organizations who go “above and beyond” to donate their resources, finances, and personal time to TBR’s 40 community and technical colleges. 

Wise nominated Ray, co-founder and chief financial officer of 21st Mortgage Corporation, for his commitment to tnAchieves, the college scholarship and mentorship program that pairs volunteer mentors with incoming college students who receive the Tennessee Promise scholarship.  

Not only did Ray found KnoxAchieves, the precursor to tnAchieves, with fellow Knoxville businessmen Randy Boyd, Bill Haslam, Mike Ragsdale and Tim Williams in 2009, but Ray is one of only four tnAchieves volunteers across the state who has served as a mentor every single year. Over the past 12 years, Ray has mentored over 60 students. He drives from his home in west Knoxville to the Carter community in east Knox County to meet with his mentees, and he volunteers every year to teach budgeting at tnAchieves’ Summer Bridge Program at Pellissippi State, which helps incoming students start on a more college-ready level, both academically and socially. 

“Rich Ray was the first in his family to graduate from college,” Wise writes in nominating Ray for the award. “Growing up in east Knoxville, Rich worked his way through the University of Tennessee. He remembers the challenges of working to pay tuition and navigating higher education without a mentor to guide him. Rich says, ‘If you are the first in family to ever go beyond high school, you need someone to tell you it is possible, that you can do it.’” 

Ray and his wife, Jane, also have supported Pellissippi State since 2017, with gifts to the Student Opportunity Fund, which helps the Pellissippi State Foundation assist students in crisis, and to support the expansion of the Strawberry Plains Campus library. The couple also has committed a planned gift to Pellissippi State to continue their support of community college students into the future. 

“Jane and I have been fortunate to contribute to wonderful organizations, but we do focus on education,” Ray said when accepting the award from Regent Danni B. Varlan on Aug. 17. “We firmly believe that to have a better quality of life for our kids in Tennessee, they must be better educated. That begins with K-3 and continues all the way through getting their degrees either at a university or a community college or developing a trade at TCAT, so thank you for this recognition. I appreciate it.” 

Blount Memorial Hospital chief executive officer Don Heinemann, second from left, and hospital board vice chair David Pesterfield, third from left, accept the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 25, 2021
Blount Memorial Hospital chief executive officer Don Heinemann, second from left, and hospital board vice chair David Pesterfield, third from left, accept the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy on Aug. 25, from Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., left, and Regent Danni B. Varlan.

Wise nominated Blount Memorial Hospital for the Chancellor’s Award for its longstanding support of Pellissippi State students. In 2001 the hospital established the Blount Memorial Nursing Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a Nursing student from Blount County. The hospital later funded the Nursing simulation lab at the college’s Blount County Campus, helping establish the college’s Nursing program in 2010. More recently Blount Memorial pledged $100,000 to help build the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the Blount County Campus, which is now underway and is scheduled for completion in 2022. 

While Blount Memorial sponsors clinical rotations for Pellissippi State’s Nursing students, last year Pellissippi State helped the hospital train 61 of its medical-surgical nurses in COVID-19 patient care, allowing the hospital to use the Nursing simulation lab on the Blount County Campus to practice scenarios based on actual COVID-19 cases. These COVID-19 trainings were just the beginning of what Pellissippi State and Blount Memorial envision being a year-round partnership, including the possibility of launching a nurse residency program. 

Blount Memorial’s support of Blount County and its people, however, dates to its founding in 1947, when local physicians and philanthropists partnered with ALCOA Inc. to realize the dream of a community hospital. 

“Blount Memorial Hospital is committed to care for the health and well-being of any individual who needs assistance, regardless of their ability to pay,” Wise writes in nominating Blount Memorial for the award. “This ethos permeates the organizational culture, from the greeter at the welcome desk to the most skilled surgeon. As healthcare challenges increase, so does Blount Memorial’s commitment to care for all who need assistance: every child, every senior, every hurting or sick individual, regardless of circumstance.” 

 “It’s truly an honor for Blount Memorial to receive the Chancellor’s Award,” said Heinemann, the hospital’s CEO. “Our work with Pellissippi State is something we’ve cherished over the years, and we’re committed to continuing our efforts to support Pellissippi State students who are planning careers in health care. As we saw just in the last year, our collaboration with Pellissippi State helped us ensure our team was prepared to handle the influx of COVID-19 cases in our community. In a pandemic – or any other time – that’s a win-win for us.” 

Fall classes are now underway at Pellissippi State. For more information about the college or the Foundation, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

To apply to be a tnAchieves mentor for the Class of 2022, a commitment of about one hour per month, visit www.tnachieves.org/mentors 

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Pellissippi State offers COVID-19 vaccines at on-campus health fair, open to community

Pax and Nursing student
Pellissippi State Nursing adjunct instructor Pakesta Washington and the college’s panther mascot, Pax, encourage anyone in the community who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine to drop by the Hardin Valley Campus on Aug. 30 for a Vaccinate and Educate Fair.

Still need a COVID-19 vaccine? Pellissippi State Community College will offer free vaccinations, no appointment necessary, at a walk-in Vaccinate and Educate Fair on its Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.  

Mark your calendars now for the health fair, which will be held noon-4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30, outside the Bagwell Center for Media and Art. Pellissippi State Nursing faculty and students will be administering both the two-dose Pfizer and one-dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccines, courtesy of Winbigler Medical.  

Pellissippi State is offering Pfizer as an option so that children ages 12-17 may be vaccinated, so bring the whole family. Those who choose the Pfizer vaccine will be scheduled for their second dose of the vaccine noon-2:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, also on the Hardin Valley Campus. 

Pellissippi State is working with the nonprofit Faith Leaders Initiative and New Directions Healthcare to offer a fair not only for faculty, staff and students, but also for the community after seeing the success of a similar event at the YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center in East Knoxville this summer. 

“Pellissippi State and New Directions Healthcare wanted to offer this fair to help the public understand the COVID-19 virus, encourage vaccination and answer questions for students, faculty, staff and our neighbors,” said Angela Lunsford, dean of Nursing for Pellissippi State. “With the Delta variant now showing up in Tennessee, we want to stress the importance of vaccination. COVID-19 is never going away, and we must protect our community by increasing the number of vaccinated people. Wearing masks for the rest of our lives is not the answer; getting vaccinated is the answer to this now endemic virus.” 

Education stations staffed by Pellissippi State Nursing faculty and students will provide information about COVID-19 including handouts explaining what the COVID-19 virus is, how vaccines work to combat it and why common myths about COVID-19 and vaccinations are untrue. 

The event will have the feel, however, of a celebration, with free popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones available for the entire family. 

For more information about the Vaccinate and Educate fair, contact Cynthia J. Finch of the Faith Leaders Initiative at 865-254-4793 or CONNECT Ministries at 865-851-8005. 

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Apply by July 31 to start Pellissippi State’s Nursing program in January

A group of nursing students stand in lab holding IV tubes
Pellissippi State Nursing students learn how to hang IV fluids in a skills lab at the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus in January 2020.

Nurses were, without a doubt, one of the breakout heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you have what it takes to be a hero? 

Pellissippi State Community College has started a spring Nursing cohort that begins January 2022. The program is offered on the college’s Blount County, Magnolia Avenue and Strawberry Plains campuses. 

Applications are due July 31. You can find the steps to apply at www.pstcc.edu/nursing/apply. 

No previous medical experience is required, although the college offers a separate Bridge program that allows Licensed Practical Nurses and paramedics to “bridge” to Registered Nurse. 

By creating a spring cohort that begins in January, Pellissippi State can offer the same quality Nursing program to an additional 50 students. Applicants may indicate their preferred campus. 

Those Nursing students who begin in January 2022 can expect to graduate in December 2023. The 22-month program is primarily Nursing classes, with eight general education courses required. Students complete clinicals each semester of the program as well. 

After graduation, students sit for the NCLEX-RN exam, which each nurse in the United States and Canada must pass to become a registered nurse. All 70 of Pellissippi State’s spring 2020 Nursing graduates passed their national licensing exam on their first attempt, the first time the college has achieved a 100% pass rate since the Nursing program started in 2011. 

“Most Nursing students, I’d say 98 or 99%, have secured a job prior to graduating,” said Dean of Nursing Angela Lunsford. “We have hospitals calling us all the time to recruit. They need people.” 

Criteria used to assess candidates are: 

  • Overall GPA in required general education courses (minimum 2.5 GPA)  
  • HESI A2 nursing entrance exam scores 
  • Extra weight will be given for required math and science courses completed with a grade of B or higher 
  • Extra weight will be given for any higher education degree earned previously 

To learn more about Pellissippi State’s Nursing program, visit www.pstcc.edu/nursing. 

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Graduate spotlight: Victoria Williams finds community on Blount County Campus

Victoria Williams and her dad, Robert Williams
Victoria Williams, left, has followed in her father’s footsteps by completing her Nursing degree at Pellissippi State. Her father, Robert Williams, graduated from Pellissippi State’s Nursing program in 2017.

When Victoria Williams started studying to be a certified nursing assistant in high school, she inspired her dad, Robert, to enroll in Pellissippi State’s Nursing program. Robert graduated from Pellissippi State in 2017, the same year Victoria graduated from high school. Now, four years later, Victoria has also earned her A.A.S. in Nursing from Pellissippi State!  

During her first two years at Pellissippi State, Victoria was a tutor in the Academic Support Center on the College’s Blount County Campus, where she helped fellow students with their science classwork. My co-workers in the tutoring center became like family,” recalls Victoria. We would all help each other with our different subjects, since many of the other tutors were taking classes too. It’s like a little family in there.”   

Victoria also spent her time in college working at Village Behavioral Health Treatment Center, an adolescent health facility, where she will continue to work part time after graduation. She has accepted a full-time position at Peninsula Hospital in their child psych unit as wellVictoria plans to eventually get her Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner for children and adolescents. 

While Victoria has many fond memories from her time in college, she will always be especially grateful for the community she found at Pellissippi State. “The faculty and staff are just so active in the students’ lives, and they are there to help them,” shares Victoria. “Even during the pandemic, my teachers and classmates were all about having Zoom meetings and keeping that camaraderie between everybody. I felt like the community is very special at Pellissippi State. They put so much effort into making sure students don’t feel alone, even before and especially during the pandemic. 

Becoming a part of a community made Victoria’s experience special and she encourages everyone to jump right into that community. “Pellissippi State is different from high school,” she says. “When you go to Pellissippi State, you are doing school in that community. You don’t just go to school, hang out with friends and then go home. Your friends are at school, and you do your homework at what feels like a home. You build into this community and you become a part of it. Dive in, get involved and be a part of that community!”

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Pellissippi State welcomes walk-ups to vaccination clinic

Cars lined up at Pellissippi State's vaccination clinic on April 9
Drivers line up for their COVID-19 vaccinations at Pellissippi State’s drive-thru vaccination clinic on the college’s Blount County Campus on Friday, April 9. When the clinic reopens Friday, April 23, Pellissippi State will welcome those without an appointment starting at 1 p.m. each day the clinic is open, in an effort to not waste any leftover vaccine.

Pellissippi State Community College will welcome those without appointments to its drive-thru vaccination clinic starting at 1 p.m. each day the clinic is open. 

Pellissippi State’s vaccination clinic will be held 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays on the college’s Blount County Campus, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville. The clinic is administering the Moderna vaccine starting Friday, April 23. 

While Pellissippi State encourages you to sign up for an appointment herethose without appointments are welcome to drop by the vaccination clinic at 1 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays to receive a shot if vaccine is available. The college is committed to not letting any open vials of vaccine go to waste.  

Vaccinations are free, and you must be 18 years old to receive the Moderna vaccine. Those who register for appointments in advance only need to schedule your first dose of Moderna. Pellissippi State staff will schedule you for your second dose when you arrive for your vaccination. 

Second appointments will be set 28 days after the first vaccination is given. 

For more information about the college’s vaccination clinic, including forms Pellissippi State asks that you fill out and print in advance of your appointment, visit www.pstcc.edu/vaccine. 

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Pellissippi State to reopen vaccination clinic Friday, April 23

A young man receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Pellissippi State's Blount County Campus
A young man receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus on Friday, April 9, the first day the drive-thru vaccination clinic was open.

Pellissippi State Community College will reopen its drive-thru vaccination clinic on its Blount County Campus Friday, April 23, with the Moderna vaccine instead of Janssen/Johnson & Johnson. 

The clinic will be closed this weekend as the College prepares for the shift to a different vaccine. Those who had appointments scheduled for Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17, are being notified by Pellissippi State staff. 

Pellissippi State staff waited to cancel this weekend’s vaccination clinic appointments until after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which provides guidance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, met Wednesday afternoon to discuss data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  

The committee delayed a decision Wednesday, continuing the hold on the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine for at least 10 more days to allow further review. 

Because the Moderna vaccine requires two shots spaced four weeks apart, Pellissippi State is retooling its appointment software to allow for this changeFor more information about the College’s vaccination clinic, including a link to register when the software is updated, visit www.pstcc.edu/vaccine. 

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Pellissippi State pauses vaccination clinic while Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine on hold

Pellissippi State Community College is pausing operations at its Blount County Campus drive-thru vaccination clinic because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recommended a hold on the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine for now. 

College staff will be contacting those who have made appointments to receive their vaccinations this Friday and Saturday. 

Pellissippi State is in contact with the Tennessee Department of Health and is awaiting further guidance as the CDC and FDA review data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. 

In the meantime, College staff is exploring alternate solutions to moving forward with operating the drive-thru vaccination clinic that opened April 9. Pellissippi State vaccinated 190 individuals on Friday and 179 on Saturday. 

Pellissippi State hosts vaccination clinic on Blount County Campus

Drivers should enter and exit Pellissippi State's Blount County Campus via South Old Grey Ridge Road for their COVID-19 vaccinations.
This map shows how those who make appointments to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Pellissippi State Community College will enter and exit the Blount County Campus via S. Old Grey Ridge Road.

Pellissippi State Community College is excited to announce that the college’s Blount County Campus will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for the community starting April 9. 

The clinic will be open for appointments 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays until the end of July, with the possibility of adding Tuesdays as well after spring 2021 classes end in May.  

Pellissippi State will offer the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is one dose only. There is no charge for the vaccine, but you must be 18 years old to receive this vaccine.  

Visit www.pstcc.edu/vaccine to make an appointment to receive the vaccine at Pellissippi StateTo speed up your appointment, please fill out and print the screening form in advance. Paper copies also will be available onsite 

Your total time on campus will be around 30 minutes to allow for check-in, vaccination administration and a 15-minute observation time following the shot. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible to help keep wait times to a minimum. 

Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus is located at 2731 W. Alexander Parkway, Friendsville. For more information, including a map of how the clinic will be set up in the campus’ parking lot, visit www.pstcc.edu/vaccine. 

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Pellissippi State Nursing students administer COVID-19 vaccine to frontline medical workers

Pellissippi State students Megan Boyle, Keiara Tate and Yesenia Perez, from left, meet at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center on Saturday, Dec. 19, to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to hospital workers.
Pellissippi State students Megan Boyle, Keiara Tate and Yesenia Perez, from left, volunteer at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center on Saturday, Dec. 19, to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to hospital workers.

Nursing students at Pellissippi State Community College aren’t just watching history unfold as the COVID-19 pandemic continues – they’re taking action to end it. 

Pellissippi State Nursing students started administering the first rounds of a COVID-19 vaccine to frontline workers at Covenant Health hospitals on Saturday. Within five minutes of posting the sign-up sheet Wednesday night, 50 students had volunteered. 

“I immediately let all of the College administration team know what an amazing and wonderful group of young nurses we have in our program,” Nursing Dean Angela Lunsford told students in an email Thursday. “You are part of something historic that you will tell your grandchildren about. You should be very proud! 

Pellissippi State Nursing students Megan Boyle, Yesenia Perez and Keiara Tate administered the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Saturday morning at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville while Stephanie Busby, Autumn Smith and Angela Worley administered the vaccine at LeConte Medical Center in Sevierville. 

“I knew I had to volunteer to be a part of this experience because I wanted to be part of the solution to this problem that has greatly affected not only my family, but the entire world,” said Tate, 27, a former Patient Care Technician in home health care who decided to become a Registered Nurse after her daughter was born. I have had two family members who have passed due to COVID and many others who have been ill due to this virus. I am looking forward to ushering in hope and a cure. 

A vial of COVID-19 vaccine
Pellissippi State Nursing students are administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is being administered to workers at Covenant Health hospitals.

Family experiences also influenced Perez’s decision to study Nursing. 

“Growing up, my mom was always in and out of the hospital, and I saw firsthand the way nurses took care of her – the good experiences and the bad,” said Perez, 20, who works 12 hours a week as a Student Nurse Associate at Parkwest Medical Center in addition to 30 hours a week as a manager at Taco Bell. “I want to be that person who gives back to the community – and being bilingual, I can help (Spanish speaking) people who come into the hospital because I can understand them.” 

Although Pellissippi State students were prepared to draw up the vaccine themselves, Covenant Health had pharmacists on hand at the hospitals Saturday to draw up the medication, which was then put into a cooler.  

Autumn Smith, Angela Worley, & Stephanie Busby at LeConte Medical Center
Pellissippi State Nursing students Stephanie Busby, Autumn Smith and Angela Worley, from left, volunteer to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to workers at LeConte Medical Center on Saturday, Dec. 19.

“They got six syringes (of vaccine) per vial, and we had to get every dose out of the cooler,” Perez explained. “We couldn’t have multiple doses out and lined up. They had to stay a certain temperature.” 

Nursing students injected the vaccine into the deltoid muscle – upper arm – of hospital frontline workers and other staff, including those who work in the cafeteria, housekeeping and maintenance 

“It was very intimidating at first because we were giving the injections to a lot of health care workers who have been doing this for years, and we are just Nursing students,” Perez said, noting the vaccinations moved at a fast pace and they exhausted their supply by 8:15 a.m. Saturday. “But everyone was really nice, and I am amazed we even got the opportunity to help with this historical thing.” 

“The staff at LeConte said they couldn’t thank the students enough, that it would have taken double the time without them there to help,” Lunsford added. 

Pellissippi State Nursing students will continue to help administer the vaccine at Covenant Health facilities daily until Dec. 29, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when no vaccination clinics are scheduled. 

Pellissippi State Nursing student Yesenia Perez administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a Fort Sanders employee on Saturday, Dec. 19.
Pellissippi State Nursing student Yesenia Perez administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a Fort Sanders employee on Saturday, Dec. 19.

“The excitement for this vaccine is greater than I expected – so many frontline workers were elated and relieved to be able to get this vaccine,” Tate said. “Having to face COVID every day with just a mask and prayers has left a lot of people just feeling blessed to be here for this opportunity and to see this day. I look forward to my future career as a nurse.” 

Pellissippi State’s Nursing classes are held on the College’s Blount County, Magnolia Avenue and Strawberry Plains campuses. For more information about Pellissippi State’s Nursing program, visit www.pstcc.edu/nursing, email Nursing@pstcc.edu or call 865.225.2330 

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