PN Program

The Certificate of Applied Science, Practical Nursing Program (CAS-PN) is approved by the Montana State Board of Nursing, permitting students to sit for the national licensure examination for registered nursing (NCLEX-PN) and to begin a successful career as a licensed practical nurse. After prerequisite coursework, the CAS-Practical Nursing Program consists of two consecutive semesters. The coursework for the CAS-Practical Nursing Program is competency-based and has the primary goal of preparing graduates with the knowledge, skills, and values to enter the workforce after passing the NCLEX-PN exam.

The CAS-Practical Nursing Program is offered in either a face-to-face or distance/hybrid platform, in full-time and part-time tracks. For more information about the different platforms and tracks, please review the “Track Options” tab to the left to determine which route is right for you! Students will need to commit to a full week (Monday-Friday) while enrolled in program courses. Students are in class or at clinical for the fall and spring semesters. This program is 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. If a student is unable to commit to this time commitment, we encourage students to seriously consider the part-time track for this program.

Qualify

To be eligible to apply for admission into the CAS-Practical Nurse program, applicants must have completed the following:

  • Application to Great Falls College MSU (GFC-MSU) with a complete admissions file. If you are not currently a GFC-MSU student, please Apply Now. 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. View Prerequisites.
  • 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.
  • Prerequisite coursework can be taken at other institutions but it is the applicant’s responsibility to confirm those courses are equivalent to the program’s prerequisites and are transferable to this institution prior to submitting their nursing program application. For information regarding transferable courses, please review the current listing of approved equivalent courses listed in the Transfer Guide under Student Information at: https://atlas.montana.edu:9001/pls/gfagent/hwzkxfer.p_selstate. All transfer work has to be from a Regionally Accredited Institution. For additional questions about transferability of courses, send official transcripts to GFC-MSU Registrar’s Office with a written request for evaluation. Please include appropriate course descriptions and official transcripts from former colleges with your request for evaluation.

CPR Certification:

  • To be eligible to start the nursing program, a student must maintain PROVIDER CPR certification through the American Heart Association. No other forms of certification will be accepted and may make a student ineligible to start the program. Students may obtain this certification through the ECP-100 course offered at GFC-MSU.

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:

  • Nursing program students entering the clinic setting must carry medical health insurance. Health insurance is available through the college for students who do not have other health insurance. Students will be financially responsible for their health care if they become ill or are injured in the clinical setting.
  • For students without coverage, GFC MSU offers a program developed especially for students by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Montana. This plan provides coverage for injuries and illnesses on or off campus. Please contact Student Central for more information. Please see http://students.gfcmsu.edu/insurance.html for more information.

Background Check & Drug Testing:

  • To promote patient safety and decrease institutional liability, clinical agencies require students to have cleared a background check and drug screening before they will permit the students in the clinical setting. To meet these requirements, the GFC-MSU requires that the check/screening be done prior to placement in any clinical agency.
  • Background checks/drug screenings are done at the student’s expense. Students with background checks that reveal a finding, or positive drug tests will be evaluated individually to determine whether they will be eligible for clinical placement and state licensure for their respective degree program.
  • Information about how to obtain the appropriate background check and drug testing will be provided in the acceptance letter to the nursing program.

Students previously enrolled in ANY nursing program:

  • Students previously enrolled in ANY nursing program must report that enrollment and provide official transcripts. If a student were previously enrolled in ANY nursing program, but did not graduate, a written explanation for leaving AND one (1) nursing faculty reference from that program needs to be included in your application.
  • All students must meet admission requirements for Great Falls College-MSU and submit an application for the ASN-Registered Nurse program
  • Acceptance into the ASN-Registered Nurse program is competitive, and application does not guarantee acceptance.
  • No course for transfer will be accepted unless a grade of “C” or better (not “C-“) was earned.
Track Options

Face-to-Face delivery: The face-to-face delivery method is designed for those students that reside in and around Great Falls. Students can anticipate being in class and in the simulation lab on the Great Falls College campus and in clinical settings in Great Falls. Classes are typically offered 8-5pm during the week, but clinical hours vary with some starting as early as 545am and others ending as late as 7 or 8pm.

Hybrid/Distance delivery: 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 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.

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)
  • able to complete clinical hours in the state of Montana
  • have a reliable computer
  • have easily accessible and reliable high speed internet
  • be quickly adaptable to learning new technology

Full-Time Track: 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

Part-Time track: 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

Apply and Deadline

Great Falls College MSU is committed to the provision of equal opportunity for education, employment, and participation in all College programs and activities without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, gender, age, political ideas, marital or family status, physical or mental disability, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

The ASN-Registered Nurse Program Admissions Committee reviews application packets and uses established admissions criteria to rank applicants for admission. The Application Evaluation form used by the committee is completed by the student as part of the application process. Criteria for selection emphasize academic performance in prerequisite courses, Kaplan Admission Test score, previous education, and healthcare work experience.

Please review the Program Technical Standards as they are considered criteria for admission to the program.

Current students may apply during the Spring semester before the Fall program intake. Applications become available the second Friday in February and must be delivered or postmarked by the second Friday in May. Late applications may be accepted if space allows. However, students can apply before finishing their prerequisites and may be considered for conditional acceptance if space is available. Final determination will be made after satisfactory completion of the prerequisite courses.

Distance Applicants: Keep in mind that it is the responsibility of the distance student applicant to make the following test proctor, clinical site (long term care, pediatrics/women’s health, and acute/skilled care), and clinical nurse preceptor arrangements PRIOR to submitting their application. 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). For a list of distance clinical sites previous students have used, please review the Distance Clinical Site list. 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.

To APPLY NOW please download the application and send all application items as a completed packet. Items sent separately and at random are easily lost or misfiled. We are not responsible for any late, lost or misfiled information. Please only send required documentation as other supplemental items will be discarded. Application packets can either be mailed to the Nursing Program or hand-delivered to the Health Science Administrative Assistance at GFC-MSU.

Contact Information

Health Science Administrative Assistant
Room R227
406.771.4350

Mailing Address:

Practical Nursing Admissions Committee
Attention: Practical Nursing Program
Great Falls College MSU
2100 16th Avenue South
Great Falls MT, 59405

The Next Steps

What happens after you apply to the nursing program?

Accepted students will be notified of their acceptance into the program typically by the end of June. The specific date by which notification is mailed is noted in the current program application. Accepted students will receive the intent to enroll form which MUST be completed and returned to the College. If this letter of intent to enroll is not returned by the assigned date, the student’s place will be offered to another applicant. Accepted students should plan on registering for program courses in August during the mandatory Nursing Program orientation (date and time to be announced in the acceptance letter) which will also include the mandatory Health Science Orientation. Students not accepted will be notified typically by mid-July, with specific date by which notification will be mailed noted in the current program application. If students are not accepted into the CAS-Practical Nursing program, we highly encourage students to consider applying for the CAS-Practical Nursing program again the following year. Students are also encouraged to consider applying for our other healthcare programs at GFC-MSU.

What do you do with the acceptance letter?

  • Read the acceptance letter and ALL documents received with it.
  • Mail back your intent to enroll, noting if you are accepting or declining your spot in the program.
  • Start working through the Acceptance Checklist as soon as possible. Some of the documentation that is required to be submitted PRIOR TO ORIENTATION can take several weeks to complete.
  • Make note of the required MANDATORY orientation dates.
  • Purchase clinical and lab requirements (listed on the Acceptance Checklist)

New to Great Falls College or D2L Brightspace?

New students to Great Falls College are highly encourage to register for the non-credit course called “Tech Essentials”. This is not required but we strongly recommend you complete it to help in familiarizing yourself with D2L, as the entire nursing program utilizes this learning management system extensively. The course is designed to let you do tasks you can expect to do in your regular nursing program courses. You’ll have the opportunity to complete a practice assignment, submit a practice quiz, post and reply to a discussion message, and take a survey.

All of this information is also available on the e-learning website at: elearning.gfcmsu.edu/gettingstartedinformation.html through video tutorials and an eLearning Guide. However, practice opportunities are only available with registration for “Tech Essentials.” If interested, this will be a course you may register for at nursing program orientation.

Prepare for Classes

Buy your books

You’ll need to purchase textbooks for most classes. To find out what books you need:

  1. Log into Banner Web/My Info
  2. Click on “Student Services”
  3. Click on “Registration”
  4. Click on “View All Textbooks for your Classes”

The campus bookstore will carry all of your books needed for classes (and they buy books back at a discounted price at the end of each semester). You’re also welcome to shop on-line (Amazon is a great resource) for deals on books.

https://www.thecottagebookstore.com

Get the required technology

While you are a student at GFC MSU, you can download Office 365 Pro Plus for free. You’re also licensed for up to 5 installs on a laptop, desktop, tablet, or smart phone.

Computer requirements for taking an online class:
  Required Recommended
Operating System Windows 8 or 10 Windows 10
Mac OSX 10.10 or newer Mac OSX (newest version)
Memory (RAM) 4 GB 8 GB
Storage 256 GB 500 GB
Processor i3+ i5+
Video SVGA Monitor Resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
Minimum Resolution of 800 x 600  
Internet Speed High-speed Internet (i.e., cable, DSL, etc.) High-speed Internet (i.e., cable, DSL, etc.)
Java Script Enabled Enabled
Cookies Enabled Enabled
3rd Party Cookies May be required for some courses.
Instructions for your current browser
Allow 3rd party cookies only for individual sites, whenever possible.
Web Browser Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari (Mac only) Google Chrome

Please note: It is not recommended that students plan to use a Chromebook, iPad, or Android tablet as their primary device for completing schoolwork.

 

Have a disability that may require accommodations?

GFC MSU Disability Services helps accommodate for disabilities you may have. Not all disabilities are visible, and a large number of students registered with Disability Services have disabilities such as ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, health impairments, or psychiatric disabilities.

Important: There are differences between disability in high school and disability in college.

Disability in High School Disability in College
The school is responsible for identifying students with disabilities The student must self-identify or disclose his/her disability
The school must provide the assessment of the disability and classify the disability The student must provide documentation of his/her disability to the designated office
School teachers and staff will discuss academic progress with parents or legal guardians The student is considered an adult with privacy and confidentiality protections. Without a release of information signed by the student, faculty and staff cannot talk with parents or legal guardians about the student’s academic progress
Services include individually designed instruction, modifications, and accommodations based on the IEP (Individual Education Plan) Reasonable accommodations may be made to provide equal access and participation
Modifications that change course outcomes may be offered based on the IEP The college is not required to lower or effect substantial modifications to essential requirements

The first step to determine eligibility for services is to schedule a one-hour intake appointment with the Director of Disability Services to discuss how your disability impacts your learning and together, determine reasonable Accommodations and Services.

For more information, visit Disability Services.

Recognize the expectations for student performance within the nursing program

As a nursing program student, it is important to think about the elevation in expectations and be proactive to address them. See this table below for some of the major expectations.

You manage your own time.
You must balance your responsibilities and set priorities. The program is rigorous and fast-paced.
You often have hours between classes:  class times vary throughout the day and evening. Utilize this time efficiently and organize your schedule.
You spend 12 to 16 hours each week in class and you need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour of class.
Faculty may not formally take roll, but they are still likely to know whether or not you attend. There is a strict attendance policy and missing more than 15% of classes may cause you to be dismissed from the nursing program.
Faculty are usually open and helpful, but most expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.
Faculty may lecture nonstop, expecting you to identify the important points in your notes.  When professors write on the board, it may be to amplify the lecture, not to summarize it.  Good notes are a must.
Faculty expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.
It’s up to you to read and understand the assigned material; lectures and assignments proceed from the assumption that you’ve already done so.
Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material.  You, not the faculty, need to organize the material to prepare for the test.  A particular course may have only 2 or 3 tests in a semester.
Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, you need to request them for extenuating circumstances only.
Watch out for the first tests.  These are usually a wake-up call to let you know what is expected – but they also may account for a substantial part of your course grade.

*Table information modified from www.brookhavencollege.edu

Campus Resources

We want you to succeed! We have many great resources for students described below:

The Academic Success Center

Students are eligible for free tutoring and support, including teaching successful study skills like computer use, note taking, reading, test preparation and time management. They even offer a Google+ Hangout for students who are unable to come to campus and you can submit your papers and writing assignments by e-mail to have a tutor proof your assignment and provide feedback.

Visit students.gfcmsu.edu/asc for more information

The Weaver Library

The Weaver Library is open as your major informational resource on campus. You can find books, videos, and course reserves plus the student computer lab.

For more information, including their open hours, visit library.gfcmsu.edu

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