Appendix C:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY of Report from the

1998 Task force on Nursing Education for the 21st Century


The Commissioner convened a task force made up of representatives of nursing education, service and regulatory agencies to develop a coordinated plan for nursing education within and beyond the MUS.  With a clear focus on the needs of consumers in the state, the task force developed recommendations for nursing education that address access, articulation and diversity.


In its needs assessment, the task force determined:  1) there is currently a shortage of licensed nursing personnel in Montana; 2) the shortage can reasonably be expected to escalate in for the foreseeable future; 3) the severity and impact of shortages vary by nursing education/skill level and health care setting; 4) educational mobility is lacking, upwardly mobile nurses are leaving Montana to further education.


The task force reviewed a wide range of options for nursing education and developed full consensus on the plan of action symbolized on the cover and outlined in this report.  The plan calls for:


1.   clarity of focus on the consumer: students, employers and patients.

2.   articulation: based on a common core and sequence of nursing courses, and agreement on competencies to be demonstrated for exit from education/entry to service or further education

3.   differentiation of the work of nurses at all levels--Baccalaureate RN, Associate RN, and Licensed Practical Nurse--based on respect for all levels of nursing and on the core competencies.

4.   partnerships at a variety of levels between educational programs and between education, service and regulation.


Specific recommendations for nursing education are as follows:


1.   All Montana practical nursing programs should begin awarding the Associate in Applied Science degree within the next decade. 

2.   All Montana associate degree RN programs should award the Associate in Science degree.

3.   Each separate level of nursing education–practical nursing, associate degree, and baccalaureate – should adopt a common core of nursing content and sequence of nursing courses designed to facilitate credit transfer laterally and vertically within the system.

4.   Each associate degree RN program should partner with a baccalaureate nursing program, with the goal of making baccalaureate education accessible at each associate degree program site. 

5.   Baccalaureate programs should work actively to promote educational mobility through articulation partnerships with associate degree and practical nursing programs. 

6.   MSU - Bozeman should investigate the possibility of an RN to Master's program.


Throughout its review, the task force remained focused on the needs of consumers: (1) students, who are the consumers of education programs, (2) employers, who are the consumers of the products of those programs, and (3) patients/clients, who are consumers of health care in the state of Montana.  This external focus grounded the work of the task force, clarifying and unifying the disparate needs of participant groups.