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From Dateline (October 9, 2003)

New Nursing Concentration in Women's Health Care Offered

Students seeking a master of science degree in nursing now have a new area of specialization to consider. This fall, nursing launched a new concentration in women’s health care.

The concentration complements the other three areas of specialization offered: family nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist and nursing administration.

“Our research indicates that providing high-quality women’s health care is one of the fastest growing needs in our community,” said B.J. Snell, director of the women’s health concentration. “To ensure that students are well-prepared to meet these needs, we developed a new concentration for our master of science in nursing.”

Students in the concentration will be required to complete the standard core nursing classes, as well as courses and clinical education that deal specifically with women’s health issues. Graduates will be eligible for certification as a nurse midwife or a women’s health care nurse practitioner.

“When we’re talking about women’s health, we are focusing on women from about age 12, when a girl first begins menstruation, through her lifetime,” said Snell. “Because there is such a wide age span, we must offer a broad perspective on health. As we’ve seen through recent research, the health care needs of women are often much different than those of men. By providing education that is more specific to women, students will not only be able to treat problems but provide education and preventive measures to enhance the health of their patients.”

With severe nursing shortages, programs of this type are not only beneficial to the community-at-large but can be equally attractive to new students, she noted.

“There has been an identified need for this program,” Snell said. “We are committed to building the finest nursing program in Orange County, and we believe this is necessary to ensure the health of the community and meet the needs of students.”

Currently, Cal State Fuller-ton is the only institution in Orange County that offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing.

In fact, it was the advanced practice training component of the program that helped Snell successfully garner a three-year, $96,480 grant from the Department of Health Services, Maternal and Child Health Branch. The award is specifically designed to support advanced nurse training in midwifery and women’s health care.

“The opportunities for students who complete this program are enormous,” said Snell. “They can go on to careers in private practice, hospital-based programs and clinics. Because there is such a need for these kinds of services, students have many options – they can work full-time or part-time in a variety of settings”

To achieve educational and clinical goals, nursing has partnered with UCI Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente and a variety of smaller community clinics throughout the county.

“This program makes sense for both the community and the students,” Snell said. “Cal State Fullerton is helping to fill the void that is growing in the nursing profession. There is a shortage of advanced practice providers in women’s health now, and there are projections that it’s going to get worse as more and more nurses start to retire. Developing a new concentration in a needed area just makes good sense.”