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Minnesota West marks 50 years of Practical Nursing graduates

"Practical nurses work in many different areas of health care," said Dean of Science & Nursing Dr. Dawn Gordon.

WORTHINGTON — This graduation season, Minnesota West Community & Technical College has a little something extra to celebrate — 50 years of graduates in the Practical Nursing program.

The college welcomed its first Practical Nursing students in 1970, and they graduated in the spring of 1971. In the 50 years since its founding, the Minnesota West Practical Nursing program has graduated more than 1,850 students total.

Practical Nursing is a one-year program that leads down two paths: graduates either continue their education toward an associate's degree in nursing, or they take the NCLEX-PN exam and enter the workforce.

"Practical nurses work in many different areas of health care," said Dr. Dawn Gordon, Dean of Science & Nursing at Minnesota West.

Long-term care, hospice, home care and nursing homes are just some of the many employers who hire practical nurses. This year, about 40 students across the five Minnesota West campuses will graduate from the Practical Nursing program.

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"It's exciting to see them working in our communities," Gordon said.

"I'm very proud of all of our current and past graduates," she said, adding that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, practical nurses have been heroes in their communities. "We should all be very thankful and proud."

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