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Lake Region State College:

Celebrating 75 years

Page 19

Do you remember?


rom 1960 to 1986, LRSC (then

Lake Region Junior College)

operated an exemplary Practical

Nursing program. Approval to of-

fer the program was received from

the North Dakota Board of Nurs-

ing in October 1959.

Sister Mary Rosita, director of

nurses at Mercy Hospital, pre-

pared the application and devel-

oped curriculum for the program.

Under the leadership of President

Merril Berg, the college negotiated

approval from the State Board for

Vocational Education, and the

program was launched as a joint

venture bewteen the college and

hospital. Sister Mary Rosita served

as director for six years, until the

spring of 1966, when Marilyn

Pederson accepted directorship

responsibilities. She continued

in that role until fall 1979. Mari-

lyn Lipp, Vivian Simpson, and

Margaret Smith also directed the

program. Beverly Schmidt taught

in the program for many of its

twenty-six years. Through the

years, over fifty instructors helped

to educate practical nurses, as-

sisted by employees of associated

health agencies.

From 1972 to 1983, a satellite

program addressed the need for

health care workers in Rolette

County. The Rolla Extension Pro-

gram was recognized by the fed-

eral government with the Program

Excellence Award in 1982. All

totaled, eighty-one nurses gradu-

ated from this extension program.

In 1985, North Dakota in-

creased educational requirements

for practical and registered nurses,

setting standards that continue to

be the most stringent in the na-

tion. In 1986, the Practical Nursing

program at LRSC was closed due

to declining enrollment. Over the

years, the program graduated 956

practical nurses, many of whom

continue to provide halth care in

North Dakota. ●

— Branches, fall 2000 —

Exciting opportunities in the

field of nursing abound at LRSC


hanks to creative thinking

and teamwork, students in

the Lake Region and in many

rural North Dakota communities

can complete a nursing degree

without leaving home.

It all began in 2000 when a

shortage of skilled personnel in

the healthcare industry was iden-

tified by Job Service North Dakota

as a dominant trend across the

state. When LRSC was asked to

establish a Nursing Task Force

to study this shortage, a survey

confirmed that a plan for training

healthcare professionals was criti-

cal for providing North Dakota

with the nursing workforce it

would need for the long term.

In fall 2001, the LRSC two-

year Practical Nurse program


see column at right

) was revital-

ized, thanks to a collaborative

partnership which linked LRSC

with Williston State College and

Bismarck State College. Julie

Traynor, MS, RN, was named fac-

ulty/coordinator of the program.

Students entering the program

were required to have completed

Nurse Assistant training, a two-

week program already offered by

LRSC. Six practical nurses gradu-

ated, passed their state exams,

and were employed locally.

A continuing shortage of nurs-

es in rural North Dakota led the

2003 Legislature to alter education

requirements. Two years of study

would now be required to become

a registered nurse. A practical

nurse could earn a degree in a

one-year program.

With a goal of providing more

healthcare education in rural ar-

eas, Traynor spearheaded creation

of the innovative Dakota Nursing

Program which included LRSC,

BSC, WSC, and Dakota College at

Bottineau. The DNP responded

to the change in a quick, efficient

manner, and the first round of

students entered the one-year

Practical Nurse program in fall

2004. The following year, two-

year Associate Degree Nurse (RN)

classes began. The four partner

programs shared curriculum and

faculty and began serving an

immense rural frontier region of

over 70 thousand square miles.

Progress hasn’t ended there.

Medical personnel knew a strong

need existed to offer a Bach-

elor of Science in Nursing. This

prompted DNP partners to seek

articulation agreements with

North Dakota universities so

ADN graduates could continue in

a seamless manner and earn their

BSN degrees.

Today, the Dakota Nursing

Program, under direction of Julie

Traynor, continues its team effort,

delivering first-rate nurse educa-

tion throughout the state. In addi-

tion to instruction on all four cam-

puses, satellite programs through

LRSC are currently in progress at

Grand Forks and Mayville. The

program has also been offered to

Langdon, Carrington, Cooper-

stown, Grafton, and Northwood.

The program has evolved

into an excellent nursing educa-

tion choice with an outstanding

curriculum and NCLEX pass rates

which exceed state and national

averages. In the past decade, the

program has grown from one

full-time faculty and one class-

room to seven full-time faculty in

four different cities. Many of the

faculty are LRSC graduates! With

the addition of new state-of-the-

art facilities at LRSC, and led by

Karen Clementich MS, RN, LRSC

Nursing director, student capac-

ity has grown to 80 students each

year. Over 300 individuals have

graduated from the Nursing pro-

gram over the past decade.

Adding further to its reputa-

tion, LRSC was accredited by the

Accreditation Commission on

Education in Nursing in 2016. ●