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Program leaders Maryanne Garon and Jo-Anne Andre pose with some medical equipment.

Maryanne Garon, left, and Jo-Anne Andre have launched Cal State Fullerton’s new MSN blended program. Photo by Kelly Lacefield

New Path to MSN

Earning a Master's Degree in Nursing Made Easier for Out-of-Town Students

August 12, 2008

By Mimi Ko Cruz

Earning a master of science degree in nursing with a concentration in nursing leadership just got easier for students who live outside of Orange County.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, both national accrediting agencies, have approved Cal State Fullerton's new "blended format" program, which allows graduate students to take courses via interactive webinars. In other words, students can participate in class discussions by hooking up online at a set time. The courses also include online classes and clinical practice.

Students can complete their 120 hours of required field work each semester at a participating hospital or health care center near their homes throughout California. There will be three required face-to-face meetings with directors and professors at Kaiser Permanente hospitals or medical centers in Bellflower, Ontario and Oakland.

The first student cohort is set to begin study this fall. Applications still are being accepted and applicants are being interviewed. An orientation meeting will be held Aug. 13 on the Fullerton campus and broadcast to the three Kaiser sites. Up to 45 students will make up the cohort.

The new 42-unit program was created as a result of a request by Kaiser because the health care system needs additional nursing leaders in all areas, said Jo-Anne Andre, director of nursing distance education.

"There is a shortage of nurses nationwide, but we not only need more nurses, we need more educated nurses," said Maryanne Garon, associate professor of nursing and coordinator of the graduate programs in nursing and the nursing leadership concentration.

According to a study in the Journal of American Medical Association, hospitals that employed more nurses with bachelor, master or higher degrees, had lower patient mortality and failure-to-rescue rates nationwide.

"Our new blended program makes education accessible to people in remote areas," Andre said. "This program further extends Cal State Fullerton's mission to use technology to bring education to those unable to access a traditional campus-based program. Anyone who has fought rush-hour traffic in Southern California easily sees how this opens educational opportunities to a much broader base of students."

Garon added that nurses with master's degrees from Cal State Fullerton are well-versed in health care issues such as quality patient care, patient advocacy, patient safety, ethics, risk management and coordination of care within an increasingly complex health care delivery system.

For more information about the program, visit

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