Blue Cross Blue Shield awards $100K to BSU to meet growing demand for alcohol and drug counselors

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the BSU Department of Social Work.

According to a release, the grant will support up to 15 student scholarships and stipends, faculty staffing needs and program marketing expenses to grow the number of licensed alcohol and drug counselors in the workforce, particularly in Greater Minnesota.

MDH says the state’s rural areas are served by one LADC per 15,000 people, where the metro area has about one LADC to 2,000 people.

“Recruiting and retaining LADCs in rural Minnesota has been a long-standing issue,” said Amanda Longie, assistant professor of social work and LADC liaison.

“The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota grant has awarded us an opportunity to provide scholarships for students to meet the growing needs of individuals with substance abuse disorders in rural communities.”

Nearly all Bemidji State University students in the program have passed the state’s LADC licensing exam since the program was created in 2019.

“There’s a huge shortage of people going into this line of work, and the problem isn’t getting any smaller. It’s only growing,” said Zach Gordon, a BSU senior from Grand Rapids who is completing an addictions certificate.

“Bemidji State offers a good program led by great people who offer a lot of support and care to their students. The faculty really understand the problem and bring a lot of experience to it.”

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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