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In response to student and industry demand, Gateway Technical College will soon offer a standalone licensed practical nursing program on its Racine Campus beginning next year.

Students in Gateway’s Nursing program already have the skills to take the state’s LPN licensure exam through their regular coursework, and more than 97 percent do pass. However, students have asked the college for a standalone program that can offer a full range of resources for students who specifically wish to take the LPN exam, said Vicki Coyle, dean of Gateway’s School of Health.

Coyle says area businesses have also asked the college for a standalone program to help ensure a solid and ready workforce for this in-demand career field. The college listened and will offer the program in the fully remodeled Lincoln Center for Health Careers.

“This is something we felt we needed to do,” said Coyle. “We will be seeking accreditation for a standalone LPN program, just like the Nursing program.

“Having a separate program will allow those students to get into the workforce faster and on a very defined educational path. Some of our students work full time, so to be able to get into the workforce quicker and gain that salary is very valuable to them.”

Courses will be held in the newly renovated Lincoln Center for Health Careers on the college’s Racine Campus. Classes will start in January of 2022 and will take two semesters for students who choose the full-time format. Students will also be able to choose a part-time format. Signup for courses will be available soon.

The average median pay for an LPN in Southeastern Wisconsin is about $23.40 an hour.

Having a separate program for those who want to specialize in LPN means they will receive more tailored academic and career support from the college as well as even more classroom time and skills training needed to become an LPN. They will still be taught by the same instructors as before but in a more defined role.

“We know many long-term care facilities in the area employ LPNs,” said Coyle. “Students can choose to earn their LPN and enter the workforce. If their ultimate goal is to become a registered nurse, then they have that option as well. They can build upon what they’ve learned and earned toward a Nursing degree.”

Finally, Coyle said that many other states will not allow someone to become licensed as an LPN unless they’ve graduated from an accredited program.