Healthcare education is expanding in northwest Montana. Flathead Valley Community College has brought in new degree programs and a new building is under construction on campus specifically designed for these healthcare courses.
The Registered Nurse Associates of Science program at Flathead Valley Community College is currently sifting through applications to pick its next round of students. It just graduated its first 10-nurses this past summer. Vice President of Instruction Kristen Jones said career and technical education programs like the healthcare programs have advisory committees made up of people from the business community. She said the programs will grow, shrink, or re-vamp in response to what they’re hearing from those committees.
“Right now our RN program is at 10, we accept 10 students, but we’re hoping to increase that number as the program grows and as we hear from community partners that there is a need for more nurses,” Jones said.
The college also has a Certified Nursing Assistant program, Practical Nurse Degree, and works in partnership with other college and university Bachelor Degree programs in nursing.
The college broke ground on a new building for the health science courses in May and is slated to open its doors by the end of March. Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator Katie Fries said the existing health care courses are outgrowing their space in the Science and Technology Building.
“Currently the nursing faculty are housed in a temporary trailer just outside of the Science and Technology Building- that we brought in to have additional space for their headquarters, and the nursing skills lab is currently held in what used to be custodial space inside the science and technology building,” Fries said, “so, certainly there was a need for additional space for our Health Science programs.”
The 32,000-square-foot Rebecca Chaney Broussard Center for Nursing and Health Science is named for the late Rebecca Broussard, a nurse whose family donated $4 of the $5-million to build the Center. Community donations made up the rest of the funding for the building. Jones said it’s the only building on campus constructed entirely through donations. The new building will also host Anatomy and Physiology courses, Emergency Management, Physical Therapy, surgical technician, para-medicine, and the college’s other nursing programs. Jones said it will also have a free student health clinic that will provide basic exams, immunizations and some lab testing.
“It will provide a way for us to provide low cost or free health care, but also to give some of our students some practical experience because they’ll be able to do some of their field experience in the clinic,” Jones said last year alone, there were 235 new jobs in Healthcare in the Flathead Valley.