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$15,000 grant will help Nevis School build nursing program

Nevis is one of only 10 high schools in the state that will be receiving a $15,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to establish a nursing program for their students.

NevisCNAbloodpressure3.jpg
CNA student Emily Funk checked classmate JohnPaul Benson's blood pressure during National Public Health Week. The CNA program just wrapped up its first year at Nevis School and with $15,000 in grant funding will be even stronger next year.
Contributed / Jenny Rittgers.
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Jenny Rittgers is the Nevis School nurse who started the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program and taught the classes. Eight students completed their training.

“We are so grateful to be awarded the grant dollars to our new CNA program,” she said. “The dollars will be used in a variety of ways. The majority of the dollars will be spent on equipment to create a real-life simulation lab for our students to grow experience and prepare for their skills test at the end of the year. We will also be utilizing dollars to pay for students' knowledge and skills exams to get certified at the end of the course.”

Earning college credits

During the next school year, Rittgers will be able to teach through Central Lakes College Brainerd campus as a college-in-high-school instructor.

“This means the students in a year-long course will obtain six college credits by completing the course to jumpstart their college career,” she said. “I hope to reach those who may not have considered college obtainable and help give them the confidence and start to continue on to a college degree, whether that be at a two-year or four-year college.”

Students will receive three college credits each for a medical terminology course and a CNA course. These courses are often requirements of many health care degrees.

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Helping meet the nursing shortage

“The great thing about these grant dollars is that they will not only have an impact on one group of kids, but will provide experience and opportunities to many students in the years to come,” Rittgers said. “I am so grateful to be able to be able to develop future caregivers.”

According to the MDE news release, as part of the state’s Next Generation Nursing Assistant Training initiative, these grants will help meet the critical shortages of nurses in the state.

Data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development shows nursing assistants are the sixth most in-demand job in the state.

With over 15,000 current vacancies, Gov. Tim Walz set a goal in December 2021 for the state to recruit and train 1,000 new nursing assistants.

According to the MDE, 1,278 Minnesotans completed training within three months, including 338 high school students.

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Young students get a jump on school readiness.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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