SDSU offers nursing degree in Rapid City

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

Brookings and Sioux Falls are not the only South Dakota locations teaching SDSU students. Rapid City offers the West River Nursing program, courtesy of SDSU.

Gail Tidemann, the dean of the College of General Studies and Outreach Programs said, “We offer classes West River?the West River Nursing and Counseling and Education Program.”

In charge out west is Dr. Kay Foland, who is the department head of the Rapid City program for the College of Nursing.

“We have a Bachelor of Science in nursing and we have a Master of Science in nursing, just like in Brookings, just smaller numbers and across the other side of the state,” she said.

The actual coursework is the same, she said, just at another site.

“We had one or two people transfer from Brookings to Rapid City this fall and occasionally we have people go out there, for very varied reasons,” she said.

The program is essentially self-sufficient, Foland said.

“We do attend Brookings graduation but besides that the students don’t really go to Brookings,” she said.

“We admit 40 students each spring into the Bachelor’s program and we graduate them in May, so it’s a five semester program, just like at SDSU,” she said.

“Every other year we take 15 [students for] the Master’s program.”

Foland said that while more students apply than can be accepted, the demand for the program is not as great as it is in the eastern part of the state.

“We have more than 40 that apply, but there’s less people in western South Dakota so the Brookings area has a bigger population and they take more people,” she said.

SDSU isn’t the only contributor to this Western educational facility.

“It is an agreement that includes SDSU, the University of South Dakota, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Black Hills State University, and the Rapid City Regional Hospital,” Foland said.

“This program was developed and funded back in the late ’80s by Gov. Mickelson with the express purpose of providing nurses for the western part of the state,” she said.

Although there are no guarantees that students will remain in South Dakota, Foland said many graduates do.

Foland said despite the many programs, the nursing shortage continues, creating a stable job market for nursing graduates.

“It’s a wonderful field to get into and this nursing shortage is not going to go away, so it’s a good profession.”

Besides providing nurses for South Dakota, the program offers other benefits.

Foland said Rapid City residents have much to gain.

“It provides Rapid City and all the local smaller hospitals with more prepared registered nurses and it provides people who live in the West River area with a much closer facility to get a nursing degree, rather than Brookings,” she said. “It provides an education closer to home.”

The other universities in the area also benefit, she said.

“The students have to take all their prerequisites at BHSU or SDSM&T, and then we give them their nursing degree.

“So certainly BHSU and SDSM&T would get increased tuition dollars because they have more students taking university courses,” Foland said.