Highlands College has landed a $637,940 grant to help boost its health care job training programs, particularly for health care majors, adult learners, veterans and the unemployed.
The Butte school is one of 15 two-year colleges across the state to split nearly $15 million in federal money from the Department of Labor, Gov. Steve Bullock and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said this week.
All colleges will partner with 39 public and private health care providers in a quest to improve training opportunities.
Highlands wants to transform nursing education with its compatriot Montana Tech by creating more remote or online instruction. It would also help students in the two-year program move easier to a four-year nursing degree, which Tech offers. Students take required classes at both campuses.
“We’ll be working with the north campus and the four-year degree program pretty closely,” said Highlands Dean John Garic.
Updated curriculum and seamless, faster ways to earn a health care certificate or degree are major goals. Money will be funneled into what Garic calls “a laddered concept.”
Students who have earned a one-semester certified nurses’ assistant certificate or a two-year medical assistance degree can move up to the four-year nursing program with greater ease.
“Of course, at Montana Tech, we are already in many respects in alignment with the purposes of the grant,” added Garic. “The only college in Montana with a four-year nursing degree is Tech. So that gives us a special responsibility and opportunity to be a player in this grant.”
As Montanans age, the demand for health care increases. And as health care technology advances at a rapid pace, more four-year, or registered nurses are needed, he added.
Almost half of the two-year degrees and certificates awarded in Montana last year were in nursing or allied-health related fields, said Montana Commission of Higher Education Clayton Christian in a press release.