Twenty BSN Students Thriving In New, Rural Clinical Program in Lewistown

This month, the University of Providence is celebrating 10 years of the RN to BSN education program, with more than 800 Providence St. Joseph Healthcare (PSJH) caregivers having completed a BSN degree in this nationally-accredited program. To offer students even more opportunities to participate in this program, the University recently developed a new accelerated BSN pilot program that places students in Lewistown, Montana.

The first cohort of 20 pre-licensure BSN students started the Lewistown program in January during a challenging winter weather season. Located about 100 miles from the main University of Providence campus in Great Falls, Montana, the rural community of Lewistown has a population of approximately 6,000 people.  About half of the students in this new BSN program are from the Lewistown area and four students are PSJH caregivers. These students are on a journey to complete 54 nursing credits in 18, eight-week courses spread over three semesters, or 12 months. This program is truly an innovative, hybrid approach to learning, as didactic portions of the courses are completed online and hands-on experiences are completed in Lewistown.

Lewistown is home to an award-winning critical access hospital, Central Montana Medical Center, where students provide patient care under the guidance of UP faculty. Although not placed at a traditional, large medical center, these students have a unique opportunity to be deeply immersed in clinical learning at this small teaching hospital. For example, the hospital staff does not hesitate to include students in providing care to patients by including them in surgical procedures, ensuring time in the lab to view a damaged cell, or accompanying a pre-term labor mom and neonate as they prepare to transfer to a larger medical center. These students receive a broad range of experience since this critical access hospital serves over a 100-mile radius and the nurse generalists must be equipped to handle any and all situations that might arise. Students also have time to practice skills in the Simulation Lab, prepared with the help of PSJH Clinical Nursing Academy Simulation Specialist Rachelle Reid. The lab also includes a full family of manikins available for running real-life scenarios.

To date, the Lewistown students and professors report that this has been an excellent learning experience where beginner-level students are learning the roles of the nurse generalist. These students also have been welcomed as members of the Lewistown community and frequently share stories of residents greeting and recognizing them when they’re out and about around town.


For more information about the University of Providence Nursing programs, please contact nursing@uprovidence.edu or 406-791-5258 or visit the UP School of Health Professions, website at: www.uprovidence.edu/school-of-health-professions/