Two-year nursing students practice care techniques on a patient dummy in a simulation lab at Monterey Peninsula College.

Yes to nursing

By Joan Weiner

To help meet a growing demand for bachelor’s-prepared nurses, CSU
Monterey Bay has added a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program, and the first class of students will start this summer.

The program is launching at a critical time, when the pace of change in nursing has rapidly accelerated.

To get involved:
Fundraising is under way to meet the need for scholarships. If you would like to help, contact Director of University De-
velopment Barbara Zappas at 831-582-
3070 or visit CSUMB.EDU/give.

The health care industry is coping with the “silver tsunami” of aging babyboomers combined with the impact of health carereform, and nurses will play a big role in meeting both challenges.

In a 2010 report, “Th e Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation examined future demands. The report recommended improving nursing education and suggested the proportion of nurses with bachelor’s degrees increase to 80 percent by 2020. Today, only 30 percent of California nurses have bachelor’s degrees.

“There is strong community support, and need, for baccalaureate-prepared nurses,” said Dr. Kathy Cruz-Uribe, provost at CSU Monterey Bay. “There is no four-year nursing program in the tri-county area.”

The university is collaborating with four local community colleges – Monterey Peninsula, Hartnell, Cabrillo and Gavilan – to avoid a costly duplication of classes, labs, equipment and faculty. “This is an historic moment in nursing education,” said Dr. Tom McKay, director of CSUMB’s program. “This isn’t just another nursing program. This intense collaboration with community colleges is historic in the California State University system. This may be a model for a new way of doing nursing education.”

In a typical bachelor’s program, the curriculum focuses on the clinical aspect of the profession rather than its public policy implications. At CSUMB, Dr. McKay said, students will look at the broader picture. Th ey will be educated to serve as health care navigators, helping patients manage multiple conditions such as hypertension and diabetes outside the hospital setting. Students will begin the program in June and spend a calendar year in university classes, including courses in information technology and research methods. Then they will complete the standard two-year community college program before returning to the university for a fi nal semester that includes classes in public health and a capstone or culminating project. The entire program can be completed in 37 months.

“In the final semester, it will all come together for students,” Dr. McKay said. “That’s when they’ll see the global picture.”

While news reports indicate that nurses have lost jobs during the current economic downturn, Dr. McKay said there is hidden demand.

“New graduates can’t find jobs because older nurses are working longer,” he said. “When the wave of retirements comes, a big demand will become apparent. It’s a crisis in the making.”