ACC exploring LPN program expansion

ALPENA — The Alpena Community College LPN program soon may be offered at the Huron Shores campus in Oscoda.

Director of Nursing Melissa Fournier, department Chair Diane O’Connor and instructor Bob Kutschman presented the plans to the board of trustees at its meeting Wednesday.

“We’ve done outreach to the south. In addition, we’re looking at expanding our LPN program to the Huron Shores campus,” Kutschman said. “From my perspective the staff is very eager to embrace this new endeavor. However, we do realize the challenges. On the top of that list is the distance, how we plan on leading that objective is through distance learning, the CISCO systems.”

O’Connor said the program wants to gain a new group of people, who may have not been served before.

“Because, of course, we’re in competition with several different colleges nearby, the more convenient we can make our program to them, we’ll be able to build,” she said.

She said it will be the same program as the one offered on the ACC campus. What needs to be put in place before the LPN program is setup are the prerequisite courses, she said.

“We have six prereqs heavy on the science,” she said.

They discussed schedule configurations, online class offerings and virtual classrooms to provide these classes.

“We feel hopeful offering this full prereqs will capture population that has been out of reach for us,” O’Connor said.

Fournier said they have estimated the potential number of students who would take the course.

“The potential for spring we have 13 pre-nursing designated students taking chemistry and anatomy at (Huron Shores campus). Now that won’t be our cohort for fall. The cohorts for fall are coming from the main campus. These are people who’ve been traveling for a year or two years who now have the opportunity to take the nursing classes in Oscoda,” Fournier said.

She said they need a cohort of eight students to launch the program.

“We do have an affiliation with Tawas Tendercare so we will have clinicals there,” Fournier said.

Arenac County Michigan Works also has offered a partnership. Fournier said Michigan Works would connect students to St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital and West Branch Regional Medical Center.

ACC President Don MacMaster sees this move as important. He said health care is not going away and the current program is robust.

“We’re putting a lot of dollars into upgrading it and moving it over to Van Lare Hall,” he said.

In Oscoda he said there is a need for opportunities for people to get health care credentials and they’re non-existent there.

“The reason we’ve tried to do this is we’ve tried several programs to be the anchor program at Huron Shores and I think I have the staff, motivation and dedication to do this right now,” Fournier said.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at jspence@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.