Colleges partner, form LPN program

Some 30 people listen to presentations about a new weekend program to train licensed practical nurses combining the resources of Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown with Maria College in Albany at FM on Thursday. At center forefront is Laura LaPorte, FM associate dean for student recruitment and admission. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

JOHNSTOWN –A joint weekend licensed practical nurse training program has been launched by Fulton-Montgomery Community College and Maria College in Albany.

More than 50 interested people attended FM information sessions Thursday given by representatives from both schools.

The program will allow busy, working people to take nursing courses from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and potentially finish in four terms. The first term, this spring, will be held at Maria, located on New Scotland Avenue, every other weekend, starting Jan. 13, and requires no health-facility-based clinical. Maria hopes to begin with at least eight to 12 students, said John Ramoska, Maria’s director of admissions.

During the remaining three terms, students will meet every weekend for nursing courses at FMCC via interactive video technology from Maria. Clinical experiences will be arranged at area hospitals. Maria, which has had the weekend program for many years, already has clinical arrangements with Albany Medical Center, St. Peter’s Healthcare in Albany and Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, but other arrangements are reportedly possible.

The new program will fill a need in the area, since LPN training at Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services ended this past year, said Laura LaPorte, FM associate dean for student recruitment and admission. “There’s no LPN program in Fulton and Montgomery counties at this time, and there is a high need for LPNs,” she said.

John Ramoska, director of admissions at Maria College in Albany, explains the specifics of Maria and Fulton-Montgomery Community College's new joint weekend program to train licensed practical nurses at an FM information session on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

General education/liberal arts courses comprising English, sociology, psychology, and human anatomy and physiology may be can be taken at FM or Maria, but as a governmental institution, FM’s per-credit-hour tuition is $181 compared with Maria’s $610. These support courses may be taken during the nursing program or before. FM’s spring semester begins Jan. 24. Students may be able to start the LPN program in January and finish next spring.

Michelle Petrie, director of Maria’s LPN program, advised people at the information sessions to carefully weigh whether they can successfully weave the weekend program into their work and home lives.

“We are excited to partner with Maria College to offer an LPN program,” said Dustin Swanger, FM president.

“The need to train a skilled workforce for healthcare and other quality programs is a part of FM’s mission.”

Maria’s president, Thomas Gamble, was likewise enthusiastic about the venture. “Healthcare facilities in the area will also benefit from the clinical nursing experiences that Maria will design…,” he said.

At the information sessions, Maria representatives pointed out that Maria PN graduates in 2016 had a 93.5 percent first-time passing rate on the National Council Licensure Exam (better known as NCLEX PN).

Students who have graduated from the following FM programs may transfer into the joint program without taking the Test of Essential Academic Skills: Certified nursing assistant, home health aide, human services degrees, health studies or a general education certificate. The FMCC-Maria agreement also allows FM associate degree graduates in seven programs to complete bachelor’s degrees at Maria.

Students interested in the joint LPN program should apply to Maria online via and pursue financial aid through that college.