MANKATO — The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is continuing its mission to help bolster the economy and workforce in the North Country, and one of its latest efforts is to help bring Minnesota State University's nursing program to students up north.
Beginning spring semester, several MSU nursing professors will be teaching primarily online courses for a registered nurse baccalaureate completion program. The program is a collaborative effort with the Northeast Higher Education District and Hibbing Community College, said Kristine Retherford, MSU's dean of the College of Allied Health and Nursing.
MSU already has had a presence on the Iron Range through a similar partnership with MSU's engineering program. The Iron Range Engineering program began due to the need of quality workers in the mining industry and through collaboration among state government officials, economic development workers, the local industry sector and those in engineering education.
Millions of dollars in financial support has been provided for the engineering program by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. And now for the nursing program, the board will be paying the cost of MSU faculty salaries for providing those courses.
“Because we had a presence there with the Iron Range Engineering … we were a likely first choice to pursue,” Retherford said. “And in addition, the reputation of the School of Nursing here at Mankato is very, very strong.”
Hibbing Community College offers an associate's nursing program. One of the closest baccalaureate programs is at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, which is about 75 miles from Hibbing.
So the idea behind the MSU Iron Range Nursing Program is to provide a convenient way for nurses to complete their degrees closer to home. However, anyone may take the courses; the program is not just for Hibbing Community College students, Retherford said.