Montana Tech’s Nursing Scholars Edge Program gives Lima High School senior advantage over classmates; applications open Sept. 6


When Nursing Scholars Edge Program participant Darby Perrenoud was a senior at Lima High School she was unsure of where her interest in healthcare would take her. Her graduating class was made up of eight students, and she was considering universities as far away as Utah.

“I was looking at being a physician assistant,” Perrenoud said. “I had no idea about the Montana Tech program at all. My high school counselor’s daughter was in the nursing school here. She showed me information about the Nursing Scholars Edge Program.”

Perrenoud applied and was selected to participate in the program.

The Nursing Scholars Edge Program is a direct entry opportunity that selects 10 top Montana high school seniors every year from a pool of qualified applicants. These incoming freshmen secure clinical spots in the Sherry Lesar School of Nursing. Earning a seat in the clinical program is a highly competitive process for students who don’t have the Nursing Scholars Edge Program advantage. The Sherry Lesar School of Nursing has been named the #1 nursing program in the state in numerous publications over the past several years, and was named a Top 20 BSN Program in the U.S. by EDsmart in 2022. The school’s excellent reputation helps draw applicants from across the United States.

By applying and being selected for one of the 10 Nursing Scholars Edge Program spots, the student needs to maintain a 3.75 grade point average in pre-nursing coursework in order to enroll in the clinical portion of the nursing program, after taking prerequisites. Program participants get to bypass one of the major hurdles to clinical selection: the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam.

The TEAS exam is a test administered to gain admission into the clinical portion of nursing schools. At Montana Tech, your exam score is factored into your application, along with your overall GPA and your grades in certain prerequisites. The TEAS exam is known for being a difficult test, and poor scores can often be a roadblock to clinical placement.

Perrenoud says not having to take the exam after her third semester was a huge relief.

“Not having to take the TEAS had a big impact on me choosing to attend Montana Tech,” Perrenoud said. “It takes off a lot of stress. It’s nice because you can stay focused on your classes.”

Director of Nursing Janet Coe, MSN,RN,CHSE calls the program a tremendous opportunity.

"The ability to have direct entry into the clinical portion of a nursing program is a tremendous opportunity for our Montana students,” Coe said. “It awards a prestigious honor for students with a clear understanding of the professional nurse role, who demonstrate high academic performance along with strong work ethic and leadership. Selection criteria gives students from all Montana communities, large and small, an opportunity to be honored."

 Montana high school seniors need a 3.5 grade point average and an ACT composite score of 23 or SAT score of 1200 to be eligible for the program.Test scores are preferred but not required. Students are asked to submit an application for the program, in addition to a regular application to Montana Tech, high school transcript, résumé, ACT or SAT test scores, and written responses to essay questions to the nursing department at

This year’s essay questions include:

  1. What is you understanding of the role of the professional nurse and why have you chosen to pursue nursing as a career at Montana Technological University?
  2. What are your views on rural health? Would you ever consider working in a rural area?
  3. Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud, and how does it relate to the person you are?
  4. Do you have any experience in health care or with patient care (such as volunteer opportunities, job shadowing, employment etc. Please describe.
  5. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for the Nursing Scholar’s Edge Program?

Perrenoud’s resume included a MedStart summer camp completed for 1 college credit in the summer, and her involvement in 4-H and Business Professionals of America.

“You, of course, want to show that you’ve cared about academics,” Perrenoud said.

Perrenoud, now in her junior year in the program, is already making plans post-graduation.

“I would like to stay in Montana for a few years, but since travel nursing is an option I would like to do that, and travel all over the world, see a lot of country,” Perrenoud said.

Applications to the Nursing Scholars Edge Program open September 6. The deadline to submit is 4 p.m. on January 19, 2024. Questions? Email Click here to view the Nursing Scholars Edge website.

Montana Tech’s general application to be accepted as a student to the university can be found here. Students must be admitted in the university in order to also be admitted into the Nursing Scholars Edge Program.

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