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Employment Data

  Registered Nurse Practical Nurse
Median Wage (MT)* $67,920 yearly - $32.65 per hour $45,330 yearly - $21.79 per hour

Median Wage (US)*

$73,300 yearly - $35.24 per hour $47,480 yearly - $22.83 per hour
Annual Job Openings (MT)* 10,681 2,437
Annual Job Openings (US)* 3,096,700 721,700
Expected Growth (MT)* 10.3% 10.9%
Expected Growth (US)* 7.2% 9.1%
*Montana Career Information System
Career Opportunities

Nurses have the opportunity to work in an incredibly rewarding career where they help others with their health care needs. Nurses are critical to the delivery of quality healthcare in hospitals, clinics and private practice settings, to name a few options.

Demand continues to grow across Montana and the United States for educated and highly skilled nursing professionals. Students graduating from Great Falls College MSU nursing programs have the opportunity to help others, make a difference in healthcare delivery, earn competitive wages, grow and advance professionally. The Nursing programs at Great Falls College MSU give students the opportunity to choose a nursing pathways that is right for them. Both the Practical Nurse and the Registered Nurse programs educate, train and prepare students to take and pass the national licensure exams (NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN) and enter the workforce ready to work and make a difference. Once the NCLEX exam is successfully passed, a graduate may be eligible to apply for licensure by endorsement in any of the 50 states.

Montana is one of 34 states who belong, via state legislative ruling, to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). "The NLC increases access to care while maintaining public protection at the state level. Under the NLC, nurses can practice in other NLC states, without having to obtain additional licenses." Information about the NLC and the participating states can be found at: www.ncsbn.org/compacts.htm. When a student nurse graduates from Great Falls College and passes the National Council Licensure Exam (RN or PN-NCLEX) in Montana, the Registered Nurse can legally work in Montana as a Registered Nurse as well as 33 other states, so long as they applied and met criteria for a multi-state license. The licensee must continually hold an unencumbered license in order to meet the requirements of the NLC. See additional information available for nursing licensure from NCSBN Nurse Licensure Compact.

Students who wish to practice in a state other than Montana will likely have additional licensing requirements to complete prior to practicing in a state outside of Montana. Nursing regulatory boards outline standards for safe nursing care and issue licenses to practice nursing. Prior to enrollment, students should review the Great Falls College MSU State Authorization (NC-SARA) webpage Great Falls College MSU State Authorization (NC-SARA) | Great Falls College MSU (gfcmsu.edu) to determine whether this program meets the licensing requirements in a specific state. It is important to note that all states determine their own requirements. The NCLEX exam is a national test, so students that have passed would not have to retest. Varying continuing education (CEU) hours may apply.

For specific state agencies offering nursing licensure, please see the professional licensure directory for nursing.

Why Great Falls College MSU


What Our Graduates Say

  • "It is a 2-year program that provides students with alot of hands-on learning and experience and preparing student nurses to be successful as RNs. The program really helps students to prepare to take the NCLEX and become a very well rounded nurse."

  • "They strive to help us in any way they can. They never talk down to you or make you feel dumb, they lift you up and really build confidence in the students. They make it very easy to go and talk to them about any issue that you may be having, and work with you to overcome the issue. The wide variety of clinicals is another strength. It's really helpful to be able to have so many different experiences. The adjuncts are amazing and advocate for us as students. They really want to help us grow and learn."

  • "Going to GFC-MSU nursing program symbolizes a great commitment of investing into our community and becoming a part of something far greater than yourself."

  • "The nursing program at GFCMSU equips a student with a solid foundation of nursing education, but also gives students the courage to be the start of conversations to change the world of healthcare."

  • “I like how it feels like a family because of the small size and having only a few instructors."

Figure Out Your Finances
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Registered Nursing Program Estimated Costs


Practical Nursing Program Estimated Costs


Figure Out Your Finances

Students seeking federal financial aid (which includes grants and loans) must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which online at fafsa.ed.gov. As a result of completing a FAFSA, an applicant will receive a federal Student Aid Report (SAR) in the mail or online. An electronic version of the SAR is automatically sent to the schools listed on the FAFSA. To list Great Falls College MSU, use our school code: 009314.

Students applying for financial aid may also be required to provide proper federal income tax information, completed verification materials, and any other information requested by the Financial Aid Office. Students must apply for financial aid annually.

Assistance is available to prospective students applying for financial aid. In addition, financial aid counseling for new students is an integral part of the admissions and orientation process. Once enrolled, students may receive counseling and assistance as needed. For assistance, please call 406-771-4334, or write to the Financial Aid Office, Great Falls College MSU, 2100 16th Ave S, Great Falls, MT 59405, or email finaid@gfcmsu.edu.

Great Falls College MSU also offers a wide variety of different scholarships to assist you in paying for your college. To view a list of current scholarship offerings, please see our scholarship page.

Explore Course Lists>> Jump to Registered Nursing Program Course Lists
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Registered Nursing Program Course Lists


Practical Nursing Program Course Lists

Application Deadlines

Students must be admitted to Great Falls College prior to submission of either the Associate of Science Nursing, Registered Nurse program application or the Certificate of Applied Science, Practical Nursing program application. Students must be in good academic standing with the institution. Therefore, no applications will be reviewed unless the applicant applies first to the Great Falls College and the official transcripts are reviewed by the Registrar.

Acceptance to Great Falls College requires a completed admissions application file. For more information on applying to Great Falls College please visit the Admissions page.

Associate of Science Nursing, Registered Nurse program

The Registered Nurse program is a limited enrollment program with an intake of 30 students once per year. Interested students must apply for entry into the program. An application packet with the criteria for admission is available on the Registered Nurse program website. Applications become available the second Friday of February and are due the second Friday of May every year. Students are notified of acceptance or denial late June to early July for an anticipated program start in the Fall.

Certificate of Applied Science, Practical Nursing program

The Practical Nurse program is a limited enrollment program with a total intake of 30 students once per year. There are a small number of these spots reserved for distance/hybrid students. An application packet is available on the Practical Nursing program website. Applications become available the second Friday of February and are due the second Friday of May every year. Students are notified of acceptance or denial late June to early July for an anticipated program start in the Fall.

For students that live more than 30 miles from Great Falls, Great Falls College MSU offers Practical Nursing as a distance/hybrid program with distance learning options. Great Falls College MSU also offers a part-time option for the Practical Nursing program, available to both traditional face-to-face and distance/hybrid students. For more specific information about these options, please refer to the Practical Nursing program website.

Certification/Accreditation

MT-Board of Nursing Approval

In order for a nursing graduate to be eligible to take the NCLEX exam, the nursing program needs to be regionally approved by the presiding Board of Nursing and needs to meet the curriculum requirements for that particular state. Both Associate of Science Registered Nursing (ASN-RN) and Certificate of Applied Science Practical Nursing (CAS-PN) programs are based on statewide curriculums and are fully-approved by the Montana Board of Nursing, meeting all the requirements to make students eligible to take the appropriate licensing exam (the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN).

National Accreditation

Great Falls College MSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education. GFC-MSU has both Associate of Science Registered Nursing (ASN-RN) and Certificate of Applied Science Practical Nursing (CAS-PN) programs. The ASN program began in the Fall of 2016 and the CAS PN program began in the Spring of 2017. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the goal of accreditation is to assess and ensure the quality of academic programs at institutions of higher education is acceptable. This accreditation process is completed by an accrediting agency, a private educational association of regional or national scope.

Great Falls College-Montana State University Associate Degree in Nursing program holds pre-accreditation status from the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation, located at 2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20037. 202-909-2526. Holding pre-accreditation status does not guarantee that initial accreditation by NLN CNEA will be received.

Frequently Asked Questions

Great Falls College MSU nursing program graduates do NOT have any state limitations on employment, once the graduate has successfully passed his/her NCLEX exam. Both the Practical Nurse and the Registered Nurse programs educate, train and prepare students to take and pass the national licensure exams (NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN) and enter the workforce ready to work and make a difference. Once the NCLEX exam is successfully passed, a graduate may be eligible to apply for licensure by endorsement in any of the 50 states.

There are select employers that require nurses to have graduated from a nationally accredited program recognized by the Department of Education in order to be eligible for hire. These employers have historically been limited to very specific military installations around the United States. Outside of this rare situation, graduates of Great Falls College MSU nursing programs that have passed their NCLEX examinations have not encountered any employers that include this as a requirement of hire.

Both programs are based on statewide curriculums and, as fairly new programs have not yet been nationally accredited but are regionally approved by the Montana Board of Nursing. Accreditation has NEVER been revoked for either program.

While SOME BSN-completion programs indicate that ASN/PN graduates need to have graduated from an accredited program, not all programs require this. Additionally, Great Falls College’s nursing programs have an Articulation Agreement established with Montana Tech to waive this requirement. Part of the mission of the GFC MSU Nursing Programs is that our “Nurses will value team work, Evidenced-Based Practice, continuous quality improvement, patient safety and a pattern of lifelong learning.” We encourage our students to continue to pursue further education if they desire and help to facilitate their endeavors. For more information on continuing your education, please check out the information located in the “Continuing Your Education” tab on this page.

Continuing Your Education

Part of the mission of the GFC MSU Nursing Programs is that our “Nurses will value team work, Evidenced-Based Practice, continuous quality improvement, patient safety and a pattern of lifelong learning.” We encourage our students to continue to pursue further education if they desire and help to facilitate their endeavors.

Already an LPN looking to pursue an RN?

Current LPNs looking to become RNs are required to complete and meet all competitive entry requirements for consideration of their application into the ASN-RN program. Pre-requisite coursework needs to have been completed within the appropriate guidelines, without exception. If an LPN is selected for one of the 30 competitive entry spots within the ASN intake, specific courses are waived in lieu of previous coursework or experience. The courses an LPN-to-RN student would not be required to take include:

  • First Year - Fall semester
  • NRSG232 Foundations of Nursing
  • NRSG233 Foundations of Nursing lab
  • First Year - Second semester
  • NRSG234 Adult Nursing I
  • NRSG235 Adult Nursing I Clinical

For more information about the ASN-RN program, please visit the Registered Nursing Program website and the Nursing Pathways website.

Interested in pursuing a BSN or beyond after completing the ASN-RN program?

After graduation from a nursing program, the entry level wages and locations of employment are often very similar for RNs with either an ASN (Associate of Science in Nursing) or a BSN (Bachelor's of Science in Nursing). Some facilities may have precedents that require employees to obtain their BSN within a set number of years. After completing our ASN-RN program, students looking to pursue a BSN should anticipate taking additional courses in leadership and management, research, community/global health, and ethics. Great Falls College has an Articulation Agreement in place with Montana Tech, establishing a partnership to help facilitate this transition beyond Great Falls College. While this streamlines continuing a student’s education beyond Great Falls College, it does not limit a student’s ability to attend other universities.

Information about Montana Tech’s ASN-BSN program can be found here: https://www.mtech.edu/nursing/BS_Nursing.html

Additional Information

For policies regarding the Nursing Programs please view the Nursing Program Handbook.

Boards of nursing are state governmental agencies that protect the public's health by overseeing and ensuring safe nursing practice. They establish standards for safe nursing care and issue licenses to practice nursing, monitor licensees' compliance to state laws, and take action against the licenses of nurses who have exhibited unsafe nursing practice. Most boards also review and approve nursing education programs to ensure that graduates are eligible to take the national licensure examinations (NCLEX) and are prepared for safe, effective practice. Montana Board of Nursing Website

To be considered for placement in one of the nursing programs at Great Falls College MSU, a prospective student that is currently enrolled in, who has withdrawn from, or failed out of another nursing program will be required to provide a written, detailed explanation of the circumstances of their withdrawal or failure and a letter of recommendation by at least one current faculty member or the program director from the previous nursing program. The student is required to take part in the competitive entry process and will be considered for placement in the appropriate semester based on available space in the class and/or clinical in which they would enter. Visit the Pathways page for more information on the steps to take if you are interested in transferring into a Great Falls College nursing program.


Great Falls College MSU
Nursing In The News

 


Nursing Faculty

 

Russ Motschenbacher

Russ Motschenbacher, MN, RN
Interim Nursing Director
Office: R228
406.771.4362
r.motschenbacher1@gfcmsu.edu

Kaylene Strutz photo

Kaylene Strutz, MSN, RN

Office: R233
406.771.2287
kaylene.scott@gfcmsu.edu

Mandilynn Lee, RN photo

Mandilynn Lee, BSN, RN

Office: R228
406.771.4357
mandilynn.lee@gfcmsu.edu

 

Julie Derby, RN photo

Julie Derby, BSN, CCRN

Office: R231
406.771.2298
julie.derby@gfcmsu.edu

Heather Smith, RN photo

Heather Smith, BSN, RN

Office: R234
406.771.4320
heather.smith26@gfcmsu.edu

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