Healthcare Opportunities Abound: Minnesota North College Offers Diverse Programming

by Annika Freiburger

two students practicing on a dummy

Authored by Dr. Jessalyn Sabin, Dean of Career and Technical Education, Minnesota North College

Minnesota North College offers diverse and flexible opportunities to earn your degree in healthcare and health-related programs, such as: Associate Degree Nursing, Certified Nursing Assistant, Dental Assisting, Practical Nursing, Fireline EMT/EMS, Paramedic/EMT, Medical Coding and Scribing, and Medical Laboratory Technician. These programs are responsive to community workforce needs, and students receive very high job placement in these fields, as these careers are in high demand*. This programming is easy to access and available in the convenience and beauty of the North Country! Minnesota North College is comprised of the former Hibbing Community College, Itasca Community College (Grand Rapids), Mesabi Range College (Virginia and Eveleth), Rainy River Community College (International Falls), and Vermilion Community College (Ely). We have now joined forces to offer comprehensive community college and technical education for the northeastern part of the state. Below is a breakdown of some of the degrees and certificates available here.

Associate Degree (AD) Nursing

Students in our AD Nursing program experience in-class, simulation, and clinical learning opportunities to assess care needs, educate patients, and develop technical skills in healthcare. Students can participate in many leadership opportunities, including the Student Nurses Association. This past year, students from the program assisted St. Louis County in deploying the COVID-19 vaccine at local vaccine clinics. This program is housed at the Hibbing campus, with clinical sites at Itasca and Rainy River. Students can enter the program traditionally in year one, or they can start with their Licensed Practical Nursing credential (LPN) and “bridge” into the second year of the two-year program by taking a summer bridge course. Additionally, our nursing licensure exam pass rates are some of the highest in the state of Minnesota.** Students sit the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) after graduation to become a Registered Nurse (RN).

Practical Nursing (PN)

Practical Nursing is a one-year program that allows students to quickly gain the foundational knowledge in nursing and become employed. We offer the PN program at the Itasca and Mesabi Range—Eveleth campuses, with an additional clinical site at Rainy River. Our local clinical partners are key in providing great hands-on experiences for students, and the strength of the program comes from the close-knit cohorts and dedicated faculty and staff. Students sit the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) after graduation to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). In 2021, our students achieved an impressive 100% pass rate.

Nursing Assistant (NA)

Students can begin their healthcare journey by taking the nursing assistant courses at any of our four main nursing healthcare campuses: Rainy River, Itasca, Hibbing, or Mesabi Range–Eveleth. This training enables students to provide care in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. At the end of the coursework, students take a certification exam to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). This is a great springboard to other healthcare pathways, and some students even take this in high school or over summer session. Students can progress from Nursing Assistant, to Practical Nursing, to Associated Degree Nursing, all within Minnesota North College.

Dental Assisting

Students interested in working in a dental office can matriculate from our year-long diploma program in Dental Assisting, which is offered at the Hibbing campus. Students can also achieve an AAS, which involves additional liberal arts coursework, if they choose. Students are engaged in active learning at our on-campus dental clinic (a partnership with the University of Minnesota), and students also complete internship hours at dental clinics across the Iron Range and Duluth. This is a great program for those looking to enter the field quickly with a lot of hands-on education. X-rays, tooth impressions, and more–we do it all in lab!


Students in our EMT/Paramedic program will become trained to administer rapid-response care to anyone injured outside of a hospital setting. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are able to provide basic life support, whereas Paramedics can provide more advanced life support. These are both offered at our Mesabi Range—Eveleth campus. This program has advanced simulation and an ambulance set-up within the classroom. Instruction is diverse, and comprises in-classroom, didactic instruction; in-hospital clinical practice; and a supervised field internship on an ambulance. Students are also able to partake in regional disaster training and other activities with area response agencies.

Fireline EMT/EMS

Fireline EMT is a certificate offered at our Vermilion campus, and this training focuses on skills that can lead to employment as Emergency Medical Responders (EMRs) and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in State and National Fire and Incident Management Systems. The coursework also incorporates skills in search and rescue, as well as wilderness survival. Students that complete this training can also move into Paramedic training to become Fireline Medics.  The Vermilion campus also offers an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Certificate, which is often taken in combination with Law Enforcement-related degrees.

Medical Coding and Scribing

Medical Coding and Scribing is a completely online program that can be finished in one year. Students receiving their diploma in this field can work in a hospital to code medical records and record and scribe alongside doctors. This program runs a full-year, with the last semester concluding over summer.

Medical Lab Technician (MLT)

Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLTs) deal with much of the sampling and diagnostics in the lab of a hospital or clinic. They may examine blood cells, urine samples, and other specimens to check for cell deficiencies, abnormalities, or parasites. The work MLTs perform can lead to diagnosis of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and cancer. This program is hosted at the Hibbing campus as a two-year option, or remotely online to those working in a hospital lab setting over a three-year cycle. Students receive clinical site placement to experience real-world work settings and create connections with professionals at local facilities.

We hope you join us for a tour to learn more about these and other programs at Minnesota North College.  We also have more general Health Sciences and Healthcare Pre-Professional programming. Check out our website to learn more: . Classes begin August 22nd!

*According to DEED Occupations in Demand Data Tool:

** See pass rates at

***This article originally appeared in the Hometown Focus’ 7/22/22 Healthcare issue: