"Grow Your Own" Nurses

Maintaining healthy rural communities depends on proper preparation and supply of a rural health workforce. Studies have shown that healthcare facilities “grew and diversified the health professions workforce by attracting students into health careers, supporting them financially (e.g. through scholarships, loan repayment, etc.) and developing new training programs to address shortages…” (Gallagher & Beer, 2009, p7). This was accomplished by creating awareness and readiness for health professions training and providing academic, financial, and social support for students.

Great Falls College MSU offers a 4-semester ASN-Registered Nursing program and a 2-semester CAS-Practical Nursing program. The length of these programs is noted after completion of the pre-requisite courses required for application to the program.

ASN-Registered Nursing program

This program is offered in a full-time, 4-semester format with a traditional in-person, on-campus delivery method. Students are expected to complete coursework and clinical in and around Great Falls.

CAS-Practical Nursing program

This program is offered in both a full-time, 2-semester, and part-time, 4-semester, format. The program is also offered in both a traditional in-person, on-campus delivery method OR a distance/hybrid method.

The distance/hybrid method is available for eligible students that reside more than 30 miles outside of Great Falls. Classes are primarily offered in an asynchronous, online platform with clinical completion occurring in and around the students’ local community. For more information regarding the distance/hybrid option, please review the Distance/Hybrid LPN tab on the left of this page.

Gallagher, K. & Beer, T. (2009). Solving Colorado’s shortage of health professionals: Final evaluation findings and recommendations. Sprint Press.
Identifying Successful Students

What does it take to be a successful student in the GFC-MSU Nursing programs? The programs are extremely fast-paced and challenging with multiple tests, quizzes, and assignments due each week. The majority of students will find it necessary to spend time outside of the classroom studying and practicing lab/clinical skills. A good rule of thumb is that for every class hour, at least 3 hours in preparation or in the completion of assignments will be needed. As employers determine which students to support in their endeavor to further their education, we highly encourage reviewing the following information regarding the available track options.

Being successful starts with understanding that the full-time program track is a full-time (Monday-Friday) commitment for two semesters. Between the classroom, laboratory, homework/studying, clinical time, and clinical paperwork, students should anticipate dedicating between 50-60 hours per week to their education. This track is available for both face-to-face and distance/hybrid students. The full-time program course sequence is available here. Course Requirements

Students encouraged to consider the full-time track are often those that have:

  • been successful taking multiple pre-requisite course at one time
  • strong time-management and studying skills
  • strong support from family and/or employers
  • the ability to work part-time (or less) if needed to dedicate more time to academic studies

The part-time option was created for students that cannot commit to a full-time academic schedule. The part-time option is completed over four semesters (after completion of pre-requisites) to allow students more flexibility. The students in the part-time option will take classes during the same semesters (fall or spring) as the full-time option. This track is available for both face-to-face and distance/hybrid students. The part-time program course sequence is available here. Course Requirements

Students encouraged to consider the part-time track are often those that:

  • have only been able to take one or two pre-requisite course at one time
  • may need assistance with time-management and/or studying skills
  • must continue working full-time
  • may or may not have strong support from family and/or employers

Distance education adds an additional level of complexity to an already challenging program. Interested students need to make sure they are able to dedicate ample time to be successful. It is recommended that you have the full support of your family and employer during the program. Students interested in the distance/hybrid program should be aware they will need to be resilient in an environment that requires self-advocacy and self-motivation to arrange what the individual student needs to succeed.

To be eligible to apply to the distance/hybrid program, students MUST:

  • live beyond the Great Falls vicinity (30 miles or more away from Great Falls)
  • have a reliable computer
  • have easily accessible and reliable high speed internet
  • be quickly adaptable to learning new technology
Academic Preparation

To be eligible to apply for admission into the Nursing programs at GFC-MSU, applicants must have completed the following:

  • Application to Great Falls College MSU (GFC-MSU) with a complete admissions file. Students must be in good academic standing at time of application to be eligible for consideration.
  • Completed all prerequisite coursework with a “C” (not “C-“) grade or higher, and a minimum overall prerequisite GPA of 2.5.

    CAS-Practical Nursing Pre-requisites

    For the CAS-Practical Nursing program, students are encouraged to take BIOH201 (Anatomy & Physiology I with lab) and BIOH 211 with lab (Anatomy & Physiology II with lab) in place of BIOH 104 (Basic Huma Biology with lab) and M 120 (Math with HealthCare Apps) or M 140 (College Math for Healthcare) as the preferred math pre-requisites. Students are also suggested, but not required, to take NUTR 121 (Clinical Human Nutrition), NUTR 221 (Basic Human Nutrition), and AHMS 144 (Medical Terminology). The increased emphasis on each of these courses on the program application is due to increased student success once accepted into the program if they have taken these preferred pre-requisite courses.

    ASN-Registered Nursing Pre-requisites

    For the ASN-Registered Nursing program, students are encouraged to take BIOH 211 with lab (Anatomy & Physiology II with lab), PSYX 100 (Introduction to Psychology), SOCI 101 (Introduction to Sociology), and BIOM 250 with lab (Microbiology) prior to program application to improve likelihood of success and due to workload requirements of the program.

  • All prerequisite coursework must be completed with a minimum grade of C (not a C-) in each course and a minimum cumulative GPA in prerequisite coursework of 2.5. Grades in prerequisite courses are a major factor in ranking applications for program acceptance.
  • Science courses must be completed within five (5) years of application to the program, and other courses must be completed within 15 years of applying to the program. For additional information on age of credits, contact Lauren Swant (lauren.swant@gfcmsu.edu) as acceptance of science courses that are older than five (5) years is at the discretion of the Program Director.
Distance/Hybrid LPN

In the hybrid/distance delivery method, there is a combination of traditional face-to-face (on campus) time throughout the semester and online learning. For online learning faculty use a variety of technologies to deliver instruction to students who are off-campus. Students are able, and highly encouraged, to “live-stream” and participate in classes via an internet platform (like WebEx). However, students are also able to log-in asynchronously and watch the class lectures in a recorded format. Clinical hours are completed in the student’s home community, but require student initiative in identifying clinical locations, nurse preceptors, and test proctors willing to work with the student once accepted into the program.

Distance education adds an additional level of complexity to an already challenging program. Interested students need to make sure they are able to dedicate ample time to be successful. It is recommended that they have the full support of family and employers during the program.

Students interested in the distance/hybrid program should be aware they will need to be resilient in an environment that requires self-advocacy and self-motivation to arrange what the individual student needs to succeed.

The face-to-face component of the course is utilized for specific testing and lab. Students MUST be on campus for:

  • Nursing Program Orientation (2-3 consecutive days)
  • Health Science Division Orientation (1 day, may be include with Nursing Program Orientation
  • For skills evaluations (Approximately 10 full days in the Fall semester)
  • Kaplan exams (Approximately 2-3 days/semester)

To be eligible to apply to the distance/hybrid program, students MUST:

  • live beyond the Great Falls vicinity (30 miles or more away from Great Falls)
  • have a reliable computer
  • have easily accessible and reliable high speed internet
  • be quickly adaptable to learning new technology

Potential distance students MUST identify a preferred clinical site, speak to the Director of Nursing (DON) to communicate intent, and identify a Registered Nurse as a clinical preceptor(s) at their preferred/identified clinical site(s). Final approval of distance clinical sites is at the discretion of the Nursing Program Director. In the event that a distance students is not able to make the above arrangements before the first day of orientation they may not be eligible to continue as a distance student, but may still be considered for traditional face to face acceptance if they desire and space allows. It is the responsibility of the distance student applicant to make arrangements for the following PRIOR to submitting their application:

  • Test proctor
  • Clinical sites
    • Long term care
    • Pediatrics/women’s health
    • Acute/skilled care
  • Clinical nurse preceptor(s)
Support Suggestions

There are several ways that an employer can assist students in the nursing programs to help increase likelihood of student success.

Financial

  • Loan Forgiveness
  • Scholarships for tuition or travel expenses (specific to the distance/hybrid lpn program)
  • Bonuses for academic successes
  • Maintaining full-time wage or benefits while allowing flexibility in hours worked

Social/Emotional

  • Monthly coaching
  • Developing a “cohort” of students enrolled in pre-requisite courses or in the program
  • Nurse preceptor online training courses for current employees that might serve as a clinical preceptor for distance/hybrid lpn students

Student Enrollment Requirements

The following are requirements of enrollment in the nursing programs at GFC-MSU

  • PROVIDER BLS certification through the American Heart Association
  • Immunizations:
    • Varicella immunity. This can be in the form of (1) 2 chickenpox/varicella vaccines or (2) positive history either documented on an immunization record or a note detailing when you remember having the chickenpox.
    • Tdap vaccination within the last 10 years
    • Hepatitis B immunity. This can be in the form of the 3-dose vaccine Hepatitis B series or positive antibody titer
    • MMR immunity. This can in in the form of positive antibody titers or the 2-dose vaccine MMR series
    • Negative tuberculin skin test (TB PPD) within the past 12 months or documentation of a positive reactor with negative x-ray. This can also be documented with a negative quantiferon gold level.
    • Students will be required to receive the influenza vaccine as part of the program for each year in which they are enrolled.
  • Active health insurance
Recruiting
Nursing students practicing their skills in the GFCMSU Sim Hospital

Thank you in your interest in our students and programs. We have an online job board called Career Coach through Emsi where employers can post positions they have. Once a position is posted, we then share it with our instructors and program directors in the relevant field of study so that they can share it with their students. Both current students and alumni have access to the job board to increase the visibility of your posting. You can create an account and access the site here: https://employers.emsicc.com/gfcmsu/login


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

edit