Nicolet College Nursing Grant Brings Opportunities to the Northwoods
Nicolet College recently received a grant from the Department of Labor that will make a big difference for students looking to go into the nursing program at Nicolet. This grant will allow nursing students to complete the first three years of a four-year nursing degree without leaving the Northwoods. Students can then complete their fourth year online through UW Green Bay or UW Stevens Point.
According to Interim President Kenneth Urban, “Many people don’t want to leave the Northwoods, and this is their opportunity to get their start in healthcare without going away to school.”
“The sixteen technical colleges in the state wrote a unified grant submission to the Department of Labor,” Urban said. The $461,531 grant Nicolet College received was part of a $15 million grant awarded to the Wisconsin technical system for healthcare. The grant is called the ACT for Healthcare, or Accelerated Careers and Training for Healthcare.
“The program allows students to receive credit for prior learning. A Military medic or corpsman may have some of the skills they need to complete the Nursing Assistant program, but not all of them,” he said. “This competency testing will give them credit for the things they already know. We will only need to teach them the things they do not already know.”
Urban explained that this is different from other competency based testing. “For instance, if a student wanted to test out of a business finance class and they received an 80%, they may not have to take that class. But at a 75%, we may tell them they need to take the entire class. But, with this program, if there are 10 points a student needs to know and they already know 5 of them, they only need to be taught the other 5.” He used these numbers as an example to illustrate how this program accelerates the learning track.
“Another reason this is a great program is because Nicolet College is a Community College rather than just a Technical College,” Urban continued. “This allows us to offer the Liberal Arts portion of the BSN nursing degree here at Nicolet.” Technical colleges can offer all of the first two years of nursing classes, but the other 25 credits, or the third year of classes, would need to be taken at a four-year college. “Milwaukee and Madison are the only other Community Colleges in the state that can offer Liberal Arts classes to their students.” That makes Nicolet a rather unique college in that respect.
“For our students, this is a career pathway. They can think of it as a career freeway with on ramps and off ramps. They may get their LPN, the first year nursing degree, and take the off ramp to a position as an LPN in the healthcare field. At some point they choose to take the on ramp back to school and complete their RN degree. They can stay on this highway all the way through to their BSN.” Students now have the opportunity to complete much more of their education without ever leaving the Northwoods.
“The demand for qualified nurses in the healthcare field is high. Good people are in constant demand. Our students will not have a problem finding jobs,” Urban said. With many Baby Boomers retiring and leaving the field, and the aging of the population in the area, this opportunity comes at a perfect time for area employers as well as individuals looking for healthcare in the area. The future in healthcare appears to be bright. Nicolet officials hope that by allowing students to complete their degrees more rapidly, without leaving the area, will be a great way for people to get into that field quickly with the skills they need to be successful.