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MnWest to expand programs

June 15, 2012
Kylie Saari , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Minnesota West Community and Technical College is expanding its course offerings in Fairmont.

Beginning in the fall, students accepted into the college's nursing program will be able to take classes toward a licensed practical nursing degree through interactive television classes.

"With technology we can bring great instruction to where the students are," said Dawn Gordon, director of practical nursing for Minnesota West.

Minnesota West has campuses across southern Minnesota.

Fairmont campus' center director Jennifer Bendix said the school's decision to bring nursing classes to Fairmont was made after a survey of students at the college's Worthington campus revealed many were traveling from this area to pursue a nursing degree.

Gordon said the nursing program is one of Minnesota West's largest programs, and with many of the students traveling great distances to take part, it makes sense to bring it closer to them.

"I think there is such an opportunity for nursing," Bendix said. "(This) will make it easier for the students."

Students attending Minnesota West's Fairmont campus may be familiar with the ITV format already, as the school's associate of arts degree is offered in that manner, as well as online.

Bendix explained the format as follows: Students gather in a local classroom, with a teacher connected through a television screen. Students interact with the instructor through a microphone.

"The teacher may be lecturing to students at five locations at once," Bendix said.

Clinical classes - hands-on experience for the students - will be offered through medical facilities in the area, Gordon said.

Currently the LPN program is the only nursing program being offered at Minnesota West in Fairmont, but if it is popular, the school may bring its registered nurse courses to the campus as well in the future.

The deadline for applying to the nursing program is Feb. 15, 2013. Students can take all pre-requisites to the program at the Fairmont campus.

The move by Minnesota West means two colleges in the same building are offering nursing courses.

Presentation College's Fairmont campus is largely known for its nursing programs, but Bendix doesn't see the new course offerings as competition, since Minnesota West will be have one- and two-year programs, and Presentation College's programs are four-year nursing programs.

In addition, Minnesota West is a public college, part of the Minnesota State Colleges and University system.

"We feel there is a niche for both schools," Bendix said.



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