STANDING (from left): Jeremy Schultes, CEO/Administrator of Fall River Health Services; Bob Nelson, Hot Springs Mayor; Kelly Cape, Southern Hills Economic Development Corporation; Dick Johnson, WDTC Board of Trustees Vice Chair; Jacki Conlon, Hot Springs Ambulance Service; Linda Rabe, WDTC Board of Trustees; Curt Pochardt; WDTC Board of Trustees Chair; Tom Brunner, WDTC Board of Trustees; Dr. Steve Willard, WDTC Board of Trustees; Chuck Johnson, Veterans Homes Superintendent; Kristen Hybertson, WDTC Director of Nursing; Dennis Fischer, Hot Springs Schools Superintendent; Natalie Hooper, Veterans Home Director of Nursing; and Lynn Kendall, WDTC Board of Trustees. FRONT ROW (from left): Barb Miller, SHEDCO; Nora Leinen, WDT Foundation Director; Debbie Toms, WDTC Vice President for Data Strategy and Enrollment Management; Ann Bolman, Ed.D., WDTC President; Andrea Powers, WDTC Board of Trustees; Christine Goldsmith, WDTC Vice President for Finance and Operations; Tiffany Howe, WDTC Vice President for Teaching and Learning; and Amiee Brown, Veterans Home Assistant Director of Nursing.
RAPID CITY – To meet the increasing need for skilled nurses and health care professionals in the region, the Western Dakota Technical College (WDTC) plans to offer its Practical Nursing program in Hot Springs starting Fall Semester 2024.
It is estimated the Hot Springs program could accept up to 12 students the first year. The courses and a hands-on learning lab will be provided at the Michael J. Fitzmaurice S.D. State Veteran’s Home at 2500 Minnekahta Ave.
Pending approval by the South Dakota Board of Nursing and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Hot Springs will be WDTC’s third satellite location for WDTC’s Practical Nursing program. It is currently offered at the main campus in Rapid City with satellite locations in Whitewood (started in 2021) and Philip (2023).
“We have a great opportunity to bring our accredited and highly sought after Practical Nursing program to Hot Springs,” said WDTC Nursing Program Director Kristen Hybertson, MSN, RN. “We already have many students from this community at our main campus. By providing the nursing courses closer to where they live, we can reduce their travel, costs, and assist potential nurses in training and finding employment in their local health care facilities.”
Hybertson added, “WDTC strives to bring quality nursing education to rural communities in Western South Dakota and Hot Springs has been extremely welcoming and supportive of our endeavor to offer our Practical Nursing program in the Southern Hills. The State Veterans Home has provided a wonderful space to house our classroom and nursing lab and we have a variety of clinical opportunities in the area for our students.”
WDTC President Ann Bolman, Ed.D., credits the WDTC Board for its support of college program course location expansion. She thanks Board Member Andrea Powers, who is the Executive Director of the Southern Hills Economic Development Corp, for helping to pave the way to provide the Practical Nursing program in Hot Springs. Dr. Bolman also thanks the Hot Springs community for its tremendous support.
“We’re excited to offer our Practical Nursing program for those in Hot Springs in the surrounding area. We are dedicated to preparing our students for success and to meeting the region’s workforce needs,” Dr. Bolman said. “We have amazing health care provider partnerships in Hot Springs and there are fantastic employment opportunities for our nursing graduates there.”
Several prerequisite courses that must be completed before a student can start the Practical Nursing courses in Hot Springs next Fall.
“Prerequisite courses can be taken Spring Semester 2024, starting Jan. 8, 2024, or Summer Semester 2024. Students can apply and register for Spring 2024 classes now,” Hybertson said. “There are multiple scholarship opportunities, so make sure to check those out as well for Fall 2024.”
Andrea Powers, Executive Director of the Southern Hills Economic Development Corporation (SHEDCO) and a WDTC Trustee said SHEDCO has been working on the offering of satellite college programs in Hot Springs for a number of years.
“It’s been one of our primary focuses as part of our goal of talent retention. With the work that WDTC has done under guidance from Dr Ann Bolman, we are able to offer what I refer to as an ‘educate in place continuum’ that allows us to address our primary workforce needs in Fall River County, health care services,” Powers said. “With innovative support from the State Veterans Home, a 16 year old student attending school in any district in Fall River County can attain a CNA certification, receive a wage form $16.00-20.00 an hour, begin taking prerequisites while in high school, (the CNA course is one of these) and complete the LPN program without the hassle of driving back and forth to Rapid.
“Further, if that student receives a Build Dakota Scholarship through a sponsoring agency such as the State Vets Home or Fall River Health Services, the tuition for the certification is free,” added Powers. “It’s also possible to receive a second Build Dakota Scholarship and complete the coursework for the RN certification with the same sponsor. In the education world this process of stackable credentials is relatively new and we are lucky that WDT focuses on these opportunities”.