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New Associate Nursing Program Kicks Off in Huron

Aug 17, 2018 10:34AM ● By Alyssa McGinnis

The first cohort of a new associate of applied science degree in nursing kicked off the semester in Huron on Tuesday, August 14, thanks to an innovative collaboration between Huron Regional Medical Center Foundation (HRMC Foundation), Southeast Technical Institute, Huron University Foundation, Huron Community Campus (HCC) and several other partners in the region.

The seven students enrolled in the LPN-RN program, their sponsors, community partners and Huron Chamber Ambassadors celebrated with a ribbon cutting on the stage at HCC.

“Today marks the culmination of many hours of hard work and dedication by a multitude of individuals and organizations to make the dream of bringing local nursing education back to Huron,” explained Paul Rann, executive director for the HRMC Foundation. “I stand here today grateful to live in a community where people do not hesitate to rally around a need and work together to make vision a reality.”

That vision began in 2016 when Huron lost its two-year nursing education program which had provided registered nursing candidates to healthcare facilities in the region. A group of concerned community members came together to form the Huron Nursing Taskforce and quickly set about finding ways to provide local nursing education to students in the Huron area.

The vision gained traction when Southeast Technical Institute agreed to expand their program to Huron and the South Dakota Board of Nursing approved the satellite location last November. The LPN-RN program is for licensed practical nurses (LPN) with 750 hours of experience who wish to earn their associate registered nurse degree. The12-month hybrid program includes online classes through Southeast Tech along with lab and clinicals at HCC and local healthcare facilities.

In addition to work experience, LPN candidates need to complete five pre-requisite courses. To accommodate working LPNs with families, providing courses locally and affordably was key.

“Because we believe so strongly in providing local education opportunities, we were thrilled to step forward with financial support to make the classes affordable to these students by paying for the instructors which allows students to take classes at our Huron Community Campus at a discounted rate,” said Marilyn Hoyt, HU Foundation board member, Huron Nursing Taskforce member.

Pre-requisite classes began at HCC in January and will continue to be offered as part of the regular class schedule.

Another big break came in January when South Dakota’s Build Dakota extended scholarships to nursing education – for the first time since program exception. Southeast Tech committed up to sixteen Build Dakota scholarships and several local and area businesses then stepped up to match the funds providing full-ride scholarships to their employees in return for a three-year work commitment.

“This collaboration is exactly what we need to increase the number of candidates available for the many open registered nurse positions in our state,” explained Kristin Possehl, RN, MSN, MEd, Southeast Tech Nursing Program Director. “Southeast Tech is honored to partner with the Huron health care community to address the shortage of RNs in this region. We look forward to starting the classes next week.”

“In addition to making the program affordable for students, we wanted to ensure that this program will be available to students into the future,” explained Rann. “We’ve made a commitment to fund the program for the first three years until there are a supply of students who can make the program self-sustaining. This has been made possible by the generosity of the Huron Community Foundation, Greater Huron Development Corporation, United Way Heartland Region, Sunquest Healthcare Center, HCC, HU foundation, HRMC and HRMC Foundation donors.”

“Our goal was to start the program this fall with 4-5 students, so we are thrilled that seven students have committed to obtaining their degrees,” said Brooke Sydow, EdD, HRMC Foundation program developer. “Today, we celebrate and applaud the efforts of everyone who has made this day possible. At the same time, we are looking ahead by encouraging future students to begin taking steps to join us in August 2019.”

The seven students and their sponsors include:

  • Bridgette Moeller, LPN, Huron – Huron Clinic

  • Caitlin Schoenfelder, LPN, Huron – Greater Huron Development Corporation

  • Mariah Lord, LPN, Huron – Horizon Health

  • Amanda Kohnen, LPN, Wessington Springs – Horizon Health

  • Natalie Terkildsen, LPN, Alpena – Huron University Foundation

  • Chelsea Davis, LPN, Highmore – Highmore Health Center

  • Denice Landmark, LPN, Britton, Marshall County Health

Anyone interested in learning more about the LPN-RN program in Huron is encouraged to contact Brooke Sydow at 605-353-6315 or visit www.huronregional.org/explorenursing. For information about pre-requisite classes beginning later this month, call Doug Pietz at 605-353-8518.