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North Tech Opens Doors to Applied Tech Practical Nursing Program

Applied Tech at North Tech

When Kim Huelsing talks about “getting out the arms” in her classroom, she isn’t joking. Her students in SSD’s Applied Tech Practical Nursing Program get their initial experience in healthcare using simulation mannequins, a sophisticated and necessary learning tool for student nurses preparing to enter the health workforce.

To better support these students, the District has moved Applied Technology Services from rented space at Wellston’s MET Center to recently renovated quarters inside North Tech. The program’s need for better infrastructure, more space, and improved technology resources made the District’s decision to renovate newly available academic space at North Tech rather than renewing the MET lease a prudent choice. An official opening was held on Nov. 28, when Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Keenan and other administrators joined staff who work in the practical nursing program for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Our Applied Tech students are our customers, and we want to treat them with the respect they deserve,” says Dr. Dennis Mix, director of adult education in SSD. “This space is quiet, it’s nice, and it’s going to work well for them.”

The North Tech space became available in December 2021, as the school continued the transition from a comprehensive career and technical education (CTE)  high school to a CTE center. The practical nursing program can now be conducted using an expanded general classroom, updated computer lab, a larger clinical lab with a windowed observation area for instructors, nursing staff offices, a break room, and a lactation room. All rooms have bright, energy-efficient lighting and updated flooring material, and two of the rooms have secure storage areas for classroom supplies. The entire project was completed for approximately $650K, but the District saved an estimated $400K by doing all the design, project management, and construction work that did not require permits. 

Kevin Andert, executive director of career and technical education and college and career readiness, notes the potential for synergy between the practical nursing program and the Health Sciences program for North Tech’s students.

“Having both programs under the same roof will help us create valuable connections between our nursing students,” he says. “CNAs typically work alongside nurses in a clinical setting. Now we have the ability to simulate that situation here on site, making it much more authentic to what you would find in a real healthcare facility.”

Each year, approximately 66 students graduate as practical nurses from each of SSD’s Applied Technology Services two practical nursing program locations - South Tech in Sunset Hills, and now North Tech in Florissant. Some students enter the program with prior college or career experience, but all practical nursing students must have a high school diploma or equivalent. The practical nursing strand is designed to be completed in 12 months, with cohorts beginning in staggered intervals at both schools. Graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN exam) to become a licensed practical nurse.

Over the last 30 years, more than 2,500 students have successfully completed Applied Tech’s Practical Nursing Program. Angela Baker, business development and marketing manager for SSD Adult Education Department, says graduates are communicating 100% placement rate in healthcare positions throughout St. Louis. Many of these graduates have continued their education and become registered nurses.

North Tech is located just off the Washington/Elizabeth Exit on 270 at 1700 Derhake Road. Call today to schedule a visit at (314) 989-7570. Learn more about the program here.