Lake Area Technical Institute Nursing Program Review

When it was established in 1965, Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) was the first technical school in the state of South Dakota. Since its foundation, the school has grown rapidly, expanding its enrollment capacity and adding new programs. It offers a variety of professional programs in agriculture, business, computer information systems, healthcare, and many other fields.

Approximately 1500 students take classes at LATI, both on the campus in Watertown and via distance learning technology. Among those students are prospective nurses. LATI’s program in nursing is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and approved by the South Dakota Board of Nursing.

Practical Nursing Program

LATI accepts fifty students each year into its on-campus Practical Nursing Program. The program is intense, requiring eleven months of full-time study and forty-eight-and-a-half credits total. Students in the on-campus program do not have the option of studying part-time. In the fall semester, practical nursing students take general education/nursing support classes, including medical terminology, pharmacology, anatomy, introduction to computers, algebra, and English composition. In addition to these, they take the first two nursing classes in the fall semester. As this is a very heavy course load (twenty-four credits in one semester), LATI highly recommends that students who are interested in the Practical Nursing Program take at least a few of the general education classes before beginning. The spring and summer semesters are devoted mainly to nursing courses. At the end of the summer semester, a graduate receives a diploma in practical nursing, and may take the National Council Licensing Exam for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). After passing this exam, she has the title of Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).

Practical Nursing E-Degree Program

Each fall, LATI accepts twenty students into its online Practical Nursing E-Degree Program. The program is open to residents of South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska, and can be completed on either a full-time or part-time basis. A student who wishes to study full-time must complete the following prerequisites before beginning: CPR, anatomy, introduction to computers, English composition, applied general math, intermediate algebra, college algebra, medical terminology, and general psychology. While a part-time student is not required to complete these before starting, LATI highly recommends that he take at least some of them.  Once enrolled in the program, it takes eleven months to complete on a full-time basis, and twenty-three months on a part-time basis. All the coursework, except for English composition, math, anatomy, and psychology, is available online; students may complete the coursework that is not available online either on the LATI campus or at another college. Students must travel to Watertown for clinical rotations. The clinical sessions are compressed into a short time period, to allow greater flexibility for students. Graduates of the Practical Nursing E-Degree program are eligible to take the NCLEX-PN.

Associate Degree in Nursing

While LATI itself does not offer an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), it does cooperate with the University of South Dakota to allow its practical nursing graduates to transition smoothly into an ADN program. The University of South Dakota makes the second-year ADN classes available on the LATI campus. After finishing the three semesters of the LATI practical nursing program and taking additional general education classes in chemistry, college algebra, English, physiology, oral communications, and microbiology (twenty-one credits in total), a student can complete upper-level nursing classes leading to an associate of applied science degree from the University of South Dakota. This degree will prepare him to take the National Council Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and for a career as a Registered Nurse (RN).

Certified Nursing Assistant Online Program

Through its Corporate Education division, LATI offers an online Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. The program includes forty hours of classroom instruction (completed online) and thirty-five hours of clinical practice at a long-term care facility. Students have the option of finding a facility in a location convenient to them, or traveling to Watertown. The CNA online program is offered four times a year: in January, April, July, and October. Graduates are eligible to take the certification exam for nurse assistants.

Lake Area Technical Institute
230 11th St. NE.,
Watertown, SD 57201