Many long-term care facilities find it difficult to attract and retain qualified LPNs. The Long-Term Care Connection is a program designed to strengthen the long-term workforce in Central Minnesota by preparing registered nursing assistants to become LPNs.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) account for about half of the nurses working in long-term care. "They are an essential part of our staff," says Bruce Glanzer, president and CEO of Good Shepherd Lutheran Home in Sauk Rapids (www.goodshepherdcampus.org.). However, many long-term care facilities - especially those in rural areas - find it difficult to attract and retain qualified LPNs.
A Dream Come True
To meet this challenge, Good Shepherd, in partnership with St. Cloud Technical College (www.sctc.edu), has created The Long-Term Care Connection, an onsite program that prepares registered nursing assistants (NARs) to become LPNs.
"Many of our nursing assistants are single parents who would like to become nurses but haven't had the opportunity," Glanzer says. "When we help them achieve their dream, they become loyal employees who provide great care for our residents. Everybody benefits."
Each student cohort includes NARs from Good Shepherd, along with NARs employed by other area facilities. The program is financed by the state scholarship program for skilled nursing facilities.
Candidates must meet all college admission requirements. In addition, they must:
Be listed on the State Registry.
Sign an agreement with the sponsoring employer.
Agree to work a minimum of 20 hours per week while completing the program.
A Winning Program
Nursing classes meet twice a week from 4 to 8 p.m. at Good Shepherd's education center, which includes a classroom with Internet access and a clinical lab where students "treat" computerized mannequins. General education courses are offered online.
The 15-month diploma program prepares students to sit for the state board exam. Students may take additional course work and earn a two-year associate of applied science practical nursing degree. Some continue on to become RNs.
Since 2003, four cohorts have graduated. "That's 80 new LPNs who are now practicing here in Central Minnesota," Glanzer says. "This program is a true blue winner!"
Nancy Giguere is a freelance writer from St. Paul who has written about healthcare since 1995.