BEMIDJI, Minn. (March 9, 2012) — Starting this summer, the nursing programs at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College will join forces under a combined umbrella, the Bemidji School of Nursing.
Work to begin unifying the nursing programs under a combined School of Nursing began last fall after nearly two years of planning.
The two programs will come together under the School of Nursing while retaining their own unique missions. Northwest Technical College will continue to provide practical nursing and associate registered nursing programs, while Bemidji State University will continue to provide the four-year, baccalaureate nursing program.
“The goal is to have efficient, high-quality education, and to have a seamless transition from one program to the other,” said Dr. Jeanine Gangeness, former chair of the Department of Nursing at Bemidji State University. Gangeness began serving as the school’s founding dean on March 1.
State law in Minnesota requires that all providers of nursing education be nationally accredited. The Bemidji State nursing program received 10-year national accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education in 2008, and Northwest Technical College is working on securing accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission for the first time.
“The school will help with that,” Gangeness said. “We can have single committees and a singular administrator who can facilitate the ability to become accredited. The school will lend strengths to both programs by allowing them to come together and work together on national accreditation requirements.”
Gangeness said the school will also help streamline the process for outside health-care agencies to enter into contracts with the two programs. The school will partner with external agencies to provide on-site training opportunities for its students. The four-year program at BSU currently manages around 80 such contracts on its own; NTC has nearly as many, and agencies commonly have separate contracts with each program.
“With the school, one contract can cover both BSU and NTC to place students in clinical agencies,” Gangeness said. “The school will also allow these agencies to have one point of contact who not only has expertise in contracts, but also expertise in nursing and clinical experiences.”
The nursing programs at both institutions are enrollment drivers and are full to capacity. The program at BSU turns away around 100 students a year, Gangeness estimated, while the NTC program turns away approximately the same number.
“There are a lot of students in these programs,” Gangeness said. “The school will allow both programs to be overseen by administrators that have nursing expertise; this will help us fulfill our mission to educate ethical, evidence-based care providers who have the confidence to demand quality healthcare for their patients.”
The school launched earlier this month and will support students enrolling in programs at both BSU and NTC for fall 2012.
“The school will benefit students by creating a smooth education process, and will make it easier for students who want to pursue baccalaureate education to move into the BSU program,” Gangeness said. “And it benefits the institutions by allowing for a smoother accreditation process.”
Gangeness has been a member of BSU’s nursing faculty since 2003; she holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in nursing from the University of North Dakota.
For more information about the Bemidji School of Nursing, contact Jeanine Gangeness, founding dean of the Bemidji School of Nursing, at (218) 755-3870.