Please note: In accordance with Sentara policy, all persons must wear a procedural mask (provided) at all times within Sentara College

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions:

Is the College accredited?

Sentara College of Health Sciences is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) to award associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master's degrees, and program completion certificates, and is certified to operate as an institution of postsecondary education in Virginia by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

The baccalaureate and mater's degree programs in nursing at Sentara College of Health Sciences are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education ( and are approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing.  

The Allied Health Programs are programmatically accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), and the Surgical Technology Program is also programmatically accredited by ABHES.

You can find out about individual accreditations and certifications here.

What are the College's hours of operation??

Sentara College is open Monday - Friday 7:30 am - 5:00 pm, excluding breaks and holidays.

Do you have information sessions or open houses?

Open house events are held each spring and fall, in approximately March and October. Open houses are great opportunities for you to learn more about the College and our programs. Information about specific dates and times of open house events can be found on the College calendar.

In addition to our open houses, the College also hosts Walk-in planning and information sessions each week for your convenience. These events are held on-campus and at selected Sentara facilities. Visit the Plan a Visit page to see upcoming sessions. 

Should I attend an open house, information session, or both?

Open house events and information sessions allow you to explore the programs offered and learn how the College can help you achieve your career goals. Both events give you the opportunity to have your transcripts reviewed, answer all of your questions, and the ability to submit an application.

Open houses give you an opportunity to tour the College, meet faculty and students, and see demonstrations of different program specialties. An open house typically includes access to program directors, college advisors, and has a larger attendance.

Walk-in planning and information sessions are intended for smaller groups and individuals, and are led by a member of our admissions team.

Can I speak to an admissions recruiter one-on-one?

Yes! Our admissions recruiters are available by appointment to meet with you one-on-one. However, we recommend attending an open house or walk-in planning and information session, which will address all of your questions about our programs.

About the Admissions Process:

How important is my GPA in the admissions process for the programs?

Your GPA (Grade Point Average) for general education/prerequisite courses is one of the main criteria we use to determine eligibility and acceptance into each program. The minimum grade requirement for all general education courses is a “C-,” except for master's students. If you are applying for the master's CNL or MENP programs, you will need a minimum grade of "B-" for all prerequisites (a "C-" in Statistics is acceptable for CNL candidates only).

Must I transfer into Sentara College from another institution?

If you are applying for admission into one of our associate or bachelor’s degree programs, you must first obtain your general education prerequisite courses from another accredited institution. Sentara College does not teach general education courses. 

The institution from which courses may be transferred must be accredited by an agency recognized by the Secretary of Education of the U.S. Department of Education. The credits must be earned while you are enrolled in a four-year program leading to a baccalaureate degree or in a two-year program designed as a transfer program to be carried to a four-year program.

Learn more about transfer credits by visiting your program's page within Academics.

Is there a time limit to transfer general education course credits?

No, there is no limit on the age of transfer credits to satisfy general education course requirements.

Do all general education course requirements need to be finished before I start the program of interest?

Yes, all required general education coursework must be completed before you begin your program at Sentara College. However, you can submit your application anytime after you meet the minimum credit criteria for your program, so do not wait until you have completed all coursework before applying. To see the minimum credit requirements for your program of interest simply select it on the page here.

How many applications are accepted per program?

Although we accept an unlimited number of applications for each program, there are a limited number of seats available within each specialty. Our programs are competitive, and we encourage students to apply early.

How many seats are available in each program?

Seats in our programs are determined by the staffing needs of Sentara Healthcare. This means we do not accept more students than can reasonably be expected to find work in their field of interest upon graduation. Learn more about our programs

About Our Programs:

Are tattoos permitted at the College?

Tattoos are allowed but must be covered (and not visible) in the clinical setting. Refer to the College Catalog for more details on the dress code policy.

Are there any physical requirements with any of the programs?

Our programs are designed to help prepare you for a career in the healthcare setting. Depending on your field of study, this could mean a career path that includes long periods of standing, unusual or long hours, occasional heavy lifting, and other requirements.

You should check with your doctor if you are concerned about your physical ability to perform any of the work associated with our programs.

This is especially important if you are considering our Surgical Technology Program, as this career requires standing for about 90 percent of the work time.

What is the difference between a Surgical Technologist and a Surgical Assistant?

A surgical technologist assists a surgeon by setting up the sterile field, passing instruments during the procedure, and preparing the operating room for the next case. A surgical assistant assists a surgeon during the procedure by holding retractors, suctioning, providing hemostasis with the electrocautery, and suturing at the close of the case. Some surgical technologists obtain further education so they may become assistants.

Can I get a job outside of Sentara Healthcare with my Surgical Technology certification?

Yes, the College is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), and the Surgical Technology Program is programmatically accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and also by ABHES. 

All graduates are expected to take the National Certification Exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Most institutions require successful certification for employment. The CST designation is recognized nationally, so graduates are eligible for employment with any institution employing surgical technologists.

What are the career opportunities for graduates of the Patient Care Technician Program?

Patient Care Technician is a nationally recognized job title that can permit graduates to work or locally or nationwide. Many local facilities, including Sentara's, have a similar role called Nursing Care Partner, and graduates of the Patient Care Technician Program are qualified to work in this role, as well. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the national Patient Care Technician certification exam, giving them great flexibility to work across the country.

How does a Patient Care Technician/Nursing Care Partner differ from a Nursing Assistant?

Nursing Assistants (NAs) help patients with activities of daily living, such as hygiene, getting dressed, and mobility. NAs work in skilled nursing centers and assisted living facilities. Patient Care Technicians and Nursing Care Partners provide all of the same services as NAs, but also perform procedures such as drawing blood, performing dressing changes, performing urinary catheterizations, and operating the computer systems and some other equipment within the hospital. Patient Care Technicians, Nursing Care Partners, and Nursing Assistants all function under the direction of an RN or LPN.

Additionally, Nursing Assistants are required to be certified by the Virginia State Board of Nursing before working in long-term care or assisted-living facilities. The certification is accomplished by passing a written and skills examination administered by the National Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation Service (NACES). There is no requirement for certification to work as Patient Care Technicians or Nursing Care Partners within the Sentara Healthcare System.

What is the difference between the Associate Degree in Cardiac Electrophysiology and the Cardiac Electrophysiology Academic Certificate?

The Associate Degree in Cardiac Electrophysiology is intended for students who wish to obtain a career in the Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab. It is a two-year Program that leads to an Associate of Applied Science in Cardiovascular Technology with a subspecialty in Cardiac Electrophysiology. The Cardiac Electrophysiology Academic Certificate is intended for people currently working in the EP Lab who wish to obtain an academic certificate and professional certification.

About Distance Learning Education:

Does Sentara offer online distance learning?

Yes! Sentara offers online and hybrid courses. The RN to BSN Program and Clinical Nurse Leader MSN Program are completely online and can be completed without ever coming to campus. Hybrid classes in other programs allow you to participate in classroom discussions and skills labs, while completing additional work online. Distance education courses like these provide you with more flexibility while completing your course of study.

What kind of computer hardware or software will I need? 

Online students will need a laptop or desktop computer and internet connection. All of our online and hybrid classes are conducted through a learning environment called Brightspace.

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