College Partners Prepare American Indian NursesAug 15th, 2006 | By tcj | Category: 18-1: The Winding Road to Student Success, Tribal College News
Ten future nurses started classes in June 2006 through a new Certified Nursing Assistant program at White Earth Tribal and Community College (WETCC, Mahnomen, MN). The program requires 80 hours of instruction before students can advance to a registered nurse degree program to be offered onsite at the White Earth Reservation by Northland Community and Technical College (NCTC).
The programs are part of a partnership between the two colleges designed to produce more American Indian nurses, according to an Associated Press release.
Petey Olson (White Earth), licensed practical nurse, nursing student recruiter, and WETCC Council of Trustees member, said, “Although this is a first time offering at WETCC, word of mouth brought in students, and now both nursing assistant certificate ‘camps’ scheduled this summer are full.” Olson believes the accessible classes have attracted interest because students would otherwise have to relocate or drive long distances to take nursing classes.
“My own experience had me driving 60 miles down the road everyday to classes to become a licensed practical nurse,” said Olson. She adds that she depended on her in-laws’ help with childcare to finish her degree, so she expects the nursing program participants will need support and encouragement.
The program is funded by a grant written by NCTC, which is matched by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Underrepresented Students Transitions Grant Program. In 20 years of offering a registered nursing program, Northland has enrolled few Native students.
This is expected to improve soon when White Earth Tribal and Community College brings a projected 16-20 certified nursing assistants into the Northland program in fall 2006. WETCC is one of the nation’s youngest tribal colleges. The White Earth Reservation Tribal Council established it in 1997.