Need Nurses Stat

CSUF Plans New Path To Becoming RN and Earning Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

January 16, 2007

By Mimi Ko Cruz

Cal State Fullerton is finalizing plans for a new pathway to the bachelor’s degree in nursing. The four-year program will prepare students for licensure as registered nurses (RNs) and the B.S.N. (bachelor of science in nursing).

CSUF has offered classes leading to the B.S.N. since 1972, but only to students who already were RNs. That path will continue to be offered, but now, “we’re preparing for another option,” said Vincent Salyers, associate professor of nursing and assistant director of the pre-licensure programs.

“We plan to admit students as pre-nursing students in the fall,” he said. “They can start taking prerequisite classes — including chemistry, anatomy and physiology, human communication and microbiology — in order to apply to the nursing program.”

By spring 2008, Salyers said, 40 students will be selected to become nursing majors in the new B.S.N. pathway.

As part of the curriculum, students will learn nursing theory and skills, then apply what they learn by caring for patients in area hospitals, Salyers said.

“We’re in the middle of a nursing shortage that is expected to get worse,” he said. “We urgently need more nurses, especially as baby boomers age and more and more people are become sick with acute and chronic illnesses.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by 2020, hospitals will need nearly 810,000 nurses. That number represents a 29 percent vacancy rate, more than tripling today’s vacancy rate of 7 percent.

In addition, nursing schools throughout the country would have to increase enrollment by 40 percent annually just to compensate for retiring RNs. But, nursing schools nationwide recently had to turn away more than 25,000 qualified undergraduate candidates for lack of faculty, Salyers said.

He said CSUF’s RN preparation B.S.N. is expected should to help alleviate a small portion of that problem.

The new program comes on the heels of the university’s new master’s degree in nursing for students with non-nursing baccalaureate degrees. The graduate program provides coursework and clinical experiences needed to qualify students for licensure RNs as well as the master of science degree.

More than 60 students have been admitted on a conditional basis to the master’s program and are taking prerequisite courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, English, speech, statistics, critical thinking, psychology and sociology or cultural anthropology, said Mary Wickman, director of the pre-licensure programs.

Wickman said a high-tech skills lab is under construction on campus and, once ready, will contain an estimated $250,000 worth of computer programs and audiovisual and other training materials to allow nursing students to practice skills in a simulated patient-care environment, she said.

“Having a nurse with an advanced degree and being able to look at the care of the patient from a more global perspective is beneficial to the public,” Wickman said. “Both the planned B.S.N. program and MSN program will provide training for an additional 100 would-be-nurses annually.”
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