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First Four Year Tribal College Nursing Program Gears Up For Fall On Flathead Reservation

Sandra Boham
Salish Kootenai College
Nursing students at Salish Kootenai College practice on synthetic cadaver.

This Fall, the Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Reservation is welcoming it’s first class of nursing students to an expanded four year program. The program is now the nation's only four-year tribal program.

The new four year program has over one hundred students enrolled in the fall semester. The college's two year program has been around for decades. There were long wait lists; and so, the administration decided to create an expanded program with a less restrictive admissions process.

Sandra Boham is the President of Salish Kootenai College. She said the program’s focus on cultural sensitivity when serving Indigenous communities is what sets it apart from other programs.

“And that understanding, we know that every tribe is unique and distinct, but it is training your eye to look for that, and to look at how you're delivering care and listen to what people are saying or not saying and how they are saying it and catching those cultural cues,” she said.

Boham said, since Indigenous people are more likely to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for culturally sensitive workers providing care is more important than ever.

Taylar Stagner is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America Indigenous Affairs reporter.

Taylar Stagner covers tribal affairs for Yellowstone Public Radio.