Ratz says Nursing Scholars Edge Program drew her to state’s top-ranked nursing school


Montana Technological University nursing junior Emily Ratz is looking forward to exploring opportunities in pediatrics and obstetrics, and has her eye set on furthering her education as a nurse practitioner. The active student athlete says the Nursing Scholars Edge Program has been a huge help in her journey to becoming a healthcare leader.

“I would most definitely recommend the Nursing Scholars Edge Program to incoming students,” Ratz said. “It essentially rewards you for the hard work you have put in throughout high school. It takes off some of the stress when it comes to applying into the nursing program, and in return allows you to focus on your prerequisite courses.”

The Nursing Scholars Edge Program selects 10 Montana high school seniors every year from a pool of qualified applicants. It is a direct-entry oppportunity that allows incoming freshmen to 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.

“Be proud of the hard work you’ve put in during high school, in academics and extracurriculars, and it will help you go far in your future endeavors,” Ratz said.

 Director of Nursing Janet Coe, MSN,RN,CHSE calls the program a monumental 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 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 nursing@mtech.edu.

 “I included my high school GPA, extracurriculars (sports, clubs, job, music) and accomplishments within those areas like academic letters, volunteer opportunities, and successful outcomes in sports and music. I also included my employment history on the resume,” Ratz said.

Ratz is from Missoula. Her parents met at Montana Tech. While the university was always on her list of possible places to attend because of that, opportunities to participate in track and field, and the Nursing Scholars Edge Program helped draw her to Butte.

“I like to say that all the pieces fell into place, as Tech felt like the perfect choice with the opportunities I was presented with,” Ratz said. “After two years, it still feels like the perfect choice, and the Nursing Scholars Edge Program was a huge part of that.”

Applications to the Nursing Scholars Edge Program open September 6. The deadline to submit is 4 p.m. on January 19, 2024. Questions? Email nursing@mtech.edu. 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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