HELENA — Gov. Greg Gianforte joined Carroll College leaders on Tuesday to celebrate a new grant, supporting workforce development efforts.
Carroll received $440,000 through the Accelerate Montana partnership. It will pay for 32 scholarships — $12,500 each for 16 students in the college’s Accelerated Nursing program and 16 students in the Master of Social Work programs.
“It’s a big deal for Montana, because we have tremendous health care workforce shortages in Montana, and Carroll College is part of the solution – we want to be part of the solution,” said Carroll President John Cech.
The Gianforte administration announced last week the state would award $6 million in federal COVID recovery money to Accelerate Montana, a partnership led by the University of Montana.
The group is now working with high schools and colleges across the state to develop and support rapid training programs, aimed at getting people ready to work in specific industries.
“Everybody wins when we provide our students the tools they need to thrive in today’s workforce,” said Gianforte. “Through innovative public-private partnerships like Accelerate Montana, I’m confident we’ll meet the challenges of today while building a more prosperous tomorrow.”
Leaders say the need for nurses and social workers in Montana is only growing. The two Carroll programs were started last year to help address that.
“We naturally partnered with Carroll because of the work they’re doing here, and we’re thrilled to be here to celebrate that,” Gianforte said.
The Accelerated Nursing track is for people who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. It allows them to go through intensive coursework and clinical training and be ready to work as a registered nurse in just 15 months.
Lauren Swant, director of Carroll’s nursing program, says it’s hard for students on the Accelerated Nursing track to find financial aid, and the accelerated timeline makes it difficult for them to work at the same time. That means these scholarships will be particularly helpful.
The Master of Social Work program is clinically focused and conducted in a hybrid setting, combining online and on-campus so it can reach more people across Montana.
James Petrovich, the program’s director, says social work is a challenging but vitally important job and whatever can be done to support people who choose to pursue it is valuable.
Students will be eligible for the scholarship if they have a financial need and they intend to work in Montana after graduation.
Gianforte said Accelerate Montana will be working with other industries, like construction, manufacturing and agriculture, to talk about ways to set up specific workforce-training pipelines.
During Tuesday’s visit, Gianforte also toured Carroll’s E.L. Wiegand Nursing Simulation Center. There, nursing students practice working with patients by attending lifelike mannequins that can simulate heart rate, breathing and various medical symptoms.