New nursing program comes to Hettinger

Anew nursing education program is coming to Hettinger. Those who wish to earn a licensed practical nursing certificate, or LPN, will be able to do it right here in town. West River Health Services is looking to the Dakota Nursing Program to fill the desperate need for more healthcare workers in town.

Frank Turner

Barb Stadheim, the interim chief nursing officer of West River Health Services said, “Our recruitment for nurses is ongoing. Every year we have to hire two to four nurses to keep up with those who are leaving. A lot of our nursing force is older, so in 2-5 years those nurses will be retiring.”

According to Stadheim, the physician and nursing shortage will be very severe by 2020. West River Health Services sees the Dakota Nursing Program as a way to combat this shortage.

“We are always looking for new nursing,” said Stadheim. “We look at the program as an opportunity for individuals to achieve their licensed practical nursing education and eventually reach their registered nursing education.”

The nursing education program will be an eleven month program offered through Bismarck State College. The nursing program has been met with great success in other small communities. In North Dakota, BSC has already been offering similar education programs to other small towns such as Hazen, Harvey, Ashley, Garrison, and now Hettinger.

Right now, the BSC program only offers the education for individuals to reach their licensed practical nursing education. However in the future, West River Health Services hopes to work with BSC to offer individuals in Hettinger the education to achieve further goals such as registered nurse.

Although BSC is in Bismarck, students will still get to see a teacher face to face. Students will be able to interact with teachers either in person or over an Interactive Video Network. Lab and clinical courses will take place at the West River Health Services hospital with a teacher on hand while theory courses will take place over the internet.   

“Our clinical instructor will be present for their lab classes, and the instructor and students will have access to a patient room dedicated to educational purposes. The students, under supervision, will also be able to practice clinicals with actuals patients,” said Stadheim.

Although the clinical instructor has not been completely determined, at this time Jennifer Seamands is seen as the most likely candidate.   

“Seamands started as an LPN and went on to further her education, so she knows the road that the students will have to travel. She will be such a great fit for the program,” said Stadheim.

According to Seamands, the local hospital reached out to her to apply for the position. Seamands has 35 years of nursing experience and experience in teaching classes in the medical field.

“West River Health Services will be able to offer the students everything they need, especially for an LPN program. I have a feeling that the nursing staff are very excited for this program, because what better way than to grow your own nurses from your own community” said Seamands.

Everyone involved in the new nursing program is looking forward to a whole new generation of nurses. The new nursing program will allow local nurses to practice for their hometown. The applications for the program are accepted through March and the program will start in August. Those who are interested and have met the prerequisites for the program can apply on the Bismarck State College website.