Date: Tue, Apr 13th, 2021

Wells named respiratory therapy program director

Melissa Wells has been named the respiratory therapy program director at Great Falls College beginning on July 1. Leonard Bates, who started the program in 1981, is retiring on June 30.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Melissa Wells has been named the second program director in the history of the respiratory therapy program at Great Falls College MSU.

Wells will replace Leonard Bates, who is retiring after starting the program in 1981, when she begins her duties on July 1.

"We are super excited about the future of the program and can't wait to see where Melissa takes it," said Russ Motschenbacher, health sciences division director at Great Falls College. "Leonard has been a rock star for the college for 40 years, and we can't thank him enough for his incredible leadership of this program. We're going to miss him personally and professionally."

Wells is coming from the Sacramento, California, area, where she works as an instructor in the both the medical assisting and respiratory therapy programs at American River College. She has worked as a bedside respiratory therapist for the past 18 years in addition to her academic experience.

Wells also has a master's degree in instructional design that will help her in online course development as she helps the program shift to a completely online delivery format as it pilots the OneMSU Network.

The OneMSU Network aims to allow programs at Great Falls College, City College Montana State-Billings and Gallatin College MSU to expand their reach by holding classes remotely.

The idea will be that students across southwestern, central and eastern Montana will take their prerequisites at the college closest to them before enrolling in Great Falls College and taking the classes remotely. Depending upon where the students live, they may have to travel for clinicals.

The revamped respiratory therapy program will have its first intake of students this summer for a start in the fall 2021 semester.
Wells is planning to settle in the Red Lodge-Billings area, which is a key market for the program as the Billings area has a shortage of respiratory therapists and the medical community there reached out to Great Falls College about expanding the reach of its program.

"We are really excited about the direction the respiratory therapy program is going," said Dr. Susan J. Wolff, CEO/dean of Great Falls College. "The OneMSU Network is taking learning to where people live. The network will be a real game-changer as we add more programs from not just Great Falls College but also City College and Gallatin College to students across these regions of the state."

Great Falls College's surgical technology program has been successfully doing this for several years.

Application to the program is open until mid-July. Call 406-268-3700 for more information.

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Record Number: 740