Kathy Kurke


“The six of us wouldn’t have gotten through without Hennepin Tech.” That’s what May 2012 graduate Kathy Kurke says about the journey she and five other paraprofessionals from local school districts took to complete training to become licensed practical nurses.

Here’s how it began: In 2008, Kurke’s employer, the Anoka-Hennepin School District, changed the requirement for being a health service paraprofessional to include being a licensed practical nurse. That’s when Kurke began looking into training options. Although as a long-time paraprofessional she was “grandfathered in” and excluded from the rule change, Kurke says that she and others wanted to complete training to be better prepared in their jobs.

Ranging in age from 34 to 61 years old, the paraprofessionals had maturity and commitment on their side, explains Kurke. After exploring practical nursing education programs around the Twin Cities, it soon became clear to her that Hennepin Technical College (HTC) offered the flexibility the women needed to accommodate their full-time work schedules while attending college.

“Our Practical Nursing program gave these students more options,” explains Marguerite Dummer, dean of health careers at HTC. “We realize the challenge of attending classes while working full-time and we do everything possible to help students succeed.” Kurke and the other paraprofessionals completed clinical training during the summer, when they had time off from their jobs. The classes that didn’t fit their school year schedules were completed through HTC’s Customized Training Services.

“HTC has great instructors,” says Kurke, “and the labs and equipment really enhanced our learning experience.” One standout, according to Kurke, is the SimMan, the human patient simulator that allows instructors to help students learn to react quickly to changing situations and symptoms.

Another highlight of the training was the sense of camaraderie the six paraprofessionals experienced. “We have really helped each other,” says Kurke, who has been employed by the Anoka-Hennepin School District for 20 years, spending 14 years as a health service paraprofessional. What’s more, by advancing her skills and becoming a licensed practical nurse, Kurke will be eligible for a pay increase.

Last updated by jhanson : 2016-08-01 11:29:21