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Great Falls nursing program seeing major upgrade

Nursing program at Great Falls College
Posted at 3:30 PM, Jan 30, 2022

GREAT FALLS — The Montana State University Mark & Robyn Jones College of Nursing Great Falls campus is planning a major upgrade.

A $101-million dollar donation was announced in August at the main MSU campus in Bozeman.

Sarah Shannon, dean of the College of Nursing at Montana State University, said at the time, “We will be constructing new, expanded nursing education buildings on each of our nursing campuses located in Bozeman, Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls, and Billings.”

Faculty say it will help give students in Great Falls a more modern approach to nursing school and also allow them to increase their class sizes. Campus director Susan Luparell says the expansion will allow the program to increase class sizes and better address the needs of the community.

“In terms of our student experience, it will allow us to have modern facilities, modern simulation labs, modern classrooms so that they can have an improved experience and so we can kind of unleash some creativity as faculty."

"Even more important than that in many ways is the ability to help offset the nursing shortage in Montana. We know we have a nursing shortage. We know the pandemic has certainly shown the need for nurses. What we’re trying to do is bridge the gap in that shortage,” Luparell said. “We’re beyond grateful for this historic donation. It will give our students and staff a more updated and better experience.”

The college is still vetting architects and going over designs for their new building, but the ball is rolling, and faculty are thrilled to be getting more space and say it will be more effective for teaching students.

Chris Borst — an assistant clinical professor at the college who runs her own private practice in Choteau — agrees that there is a need in the community and thinks the donation will help many people in the state, not just students and staff.

“We have a need for nurses who understand psych. We have a need for a lot, including space on our campus. Sometimes, we’re cramped in rooms, and we do the best we can with what we have,” Borst said. “The expansion will give us more room for our students and provide them with their current and even future needs. We’re so excited about expanding the school and providing more nurses.”

Campus staff in Great Falls don’t know yet when the ground will be broken but say they’re excited about the donation and what it can bring to the community.