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WORTHINGTON -- Minnesota West Community and Technical College is gaining a reputation in its nursing department -- a great reputation.

Practical Nursing graduates at both the Pipestone and Worthington campuses surpassed national and state averages on the National Council Licensure Examination in 2007. Not only did they exceed the averages, but 100 percent of students at the Pipestone campus, and 96 percent of students at the Worthington campus, also passed the testing on their first attempt.

"These are just fantastic test results, and they far exceed the state average of 89 percent," said Dawn Gordon, Minnesota West's director of nursing, on the statistics compiled by the Minnesota Board of Nursing.

Lest one think a year's worth of test results are a fluke, Gordon said the rate of practical nursing students passing their state licensure on the first attempt in 2007 is "very similar" to other years.

"We've been at the highest levels of the state for many years," she said.

Gordon attributes the success -- Pipestone ranked first in the state with licensure rates, and Worthington ran a close third -- to a quality nursing program at Minnesota West with good teachers and partnerships.

"(We have) wonderful educators -- from the general (courses) to the nursing classes," Gordon said. "In addition, we have very good partnerships with the hospitals and clinics. They provide wonderful training facilities and very valuable experiences."

Minnesota West students also excelled on the National Council Licensure Exam for associate degree nursing graduates, posting an 82 percent passage rate on their first attempt. The results are slightly higher than the state average of 81 percent.

Many of the students who graduate from the Minnesota West nursing program stay in the region to work, and Gordon said that is beneficial to everyone.

"These graduates help keep health care accessible and assure quality care by professionally trained RNs and LPNs," she said. "We are proud to be a partner in maintaining quality in rural health care."

The Pipestone campus graduates up to 32 students per year and up to 64 at the Worthington campus between the on-campus and distance delivery program.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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