A student dons a red medical uniform, wears a stethoscope around her neck and hauls a suitcase packed with heavy medical books to her class in Jacaradan Hall.
There, Maya Barovich joins 17 other students in CSUN’s new accelerated nursing program.
“The program is intense. I only got two hours of sleep last night,” said Barovich, who spends seven days a week juggling in-class lectures and clinical work. “I have to do my reading on the weekends and evenings.”
The accelerated bachelors of science degree in nursing, called the A-BSN, is a 15-month program that accepts a maximum of 18 students during the summer and fall semesters.
The program is specifically designed for students who have a non-nursing degree, but wish to pursue a nursing career. The A-BSN allows students to meet the degree requirements necessary to sit for the national examination to receive nursing licenses.
The 56-unit, four-semester curriculum consists of lecture classes, clinical lab work at CSUN and fieldwork at hospitals throughout the San Fernando Valley. Students learn fundamentals, such as how to administer injections and take blood pressure. Once they complete their lab fundamentals, they are sent to local hospitals where they are assigned to patients and work directly with the nursing staff.
Barovich, who graduated in 2004 as a cinema and television arts major, returned to CSUN this summer to join the second group of students entering the program since its inception in June 2007.
“I still enjoy and use the artistic aspect of the CTVA program, but I really like the nursing program,” Barovich said. “At the end of the day, I wasn’t really interested in the people obsessed with Britney Spears. I wanted to do something more rewarding.”
The first class of nursing students, which began last summer, will graduate on Aug. 19. Most of the graduating students have job offers.
“We don’t really have to do a whole lot to help our students get jobs,” said Wendy Taylor, assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences at CSUN. “Recruiters come to us looking for qualified students.”
The accelerated nursing program began last year in response to the nationwide demand for more registered nurses in the workforce. The Department of Labor’s recent report shows that nursing is one of the largest health care occupations, filling 2.5 million jobs in 2006. The employment demand for registered nurses is expected to grow faster than all other occupations through 2016.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing Web site shows that the shortage of nurses in the workforce is the result of the shortage of faculty and clinical sites available to train students.
The A-BSN program has five full-time instructors, one additional instructor borrowed from the Gerontology program and many part-time instructors, said Taylor.
Budget constraints have also prevented nursing programs from meeting the demand for qualified students. Nursing programs require laboratory equipment and simulated hospital units, making the curriculum more expensive than other programs.
CSUN’s accelerated program is one of the few programs that are likely to survive the recent state budget cuts. The University allocated nearly $300,000 for a new nursing skills lab.
“The money for the new lab was allocated before the budget crisis,” said Brian Malec, chair of The Department of Health Sciences. “Of course, we cannot guarantee anything in this world, but considering the high demand for nursing, we assume we will not experience any budget cuts.”
The new skills lab, which is under construction, will include hospital beds, monitoring equipment and life-size, simulated mannequins that mimic real-life critical situations in hospitals.
“The mannequin actually screams if you give the injection wrong and hurt it,” said Shan Chin, another student who entered the program this summer after graduating as a business major at Cal State Fresno in 2000.
Students also learn leadership training and work with the head nurse to learn budgeting skills and how to manage the workforce.
“It’s an intense program, and students need to be available seven days a week,” Taylor said.
The cost for the program, including tuition, materials and supplies can be close to $5,000 per semester, Chin said.
“We can’t work,” Chin said. “There’s no time.”
CSUN partners with several local hospitals including the Northridge Hospital Medical Center, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank and Kaiser Permanente, which send notices of available scholarships, said Taylor.
Additional scholarship opportunities may be found at the ChooseNursing Web site, which is coordinated through the Coalition for Nursing Careers in California. Their scholarship and financial aid information may be found at http://www.choosenursing.com/paying/calfinaid.html.
“The nursing shortage is not just in California. It’s a global shortage. Hospitals need qualified students, and our program is meeting that demand,” Taylor said.