Nursing program most impacted on campus

In Campus News, News
When the annual list of most impacted majors is released, past trends always seem to dominate. Business, criminal justice and communications are always at the forefront. But none of these majors are currently the most impacted on campus. That title belongs to the nursing program. 

Requirements for acceptance are difficult and applicants are put under the microscope more than ever due to the saturation of the field. But the requirements go hand in hand with the demand of nursing jobs in the real world.

Last semester only 40 applicants were accepted out of 100 who applied in the entry-level Bachelor of Science in the nursing program. Requirements such as a 3.0 GPA, a good academic record and a foundation in the sciences are all a must. But that is just the bare minimum.

“The average GPA for incoming students last semester was a 3.6 for the BSN program,” said Rebecca Otten, Ed.D., a registered nurse. “We evaluate on a structured rubric.” Otten is also a coordinator of pre-licensure nursing programs at Cal State Fullerton.

A big reason for only a small number of applicants being admitted is due to the availability of clinical sites for students to gain skills working in the real world.

“We would be able to admit more if there were more clinicals for students to work in,” Otten said. “Students develop skills in hospitals, nursing homes and clinicals. This will help them decide where they will want to advance in.”

There is also discussion of a new requirement being introduced into the evaluation of students looking to be future nurses.

“We are thinking about requiring applicants to interview along with still following the rubric of admission,” Otten said. “This will help us choose between two applicants with similar credentials who we think will be best fit for the program.”

Even though there is currently a nursing shortage in the country, the pay and an aging population are a big part of why students are choosing this career path. An entry-level registered nurse can make anywhere from $42,000 to $50,000 a year.

“I have spoken to nurses in the field and a registered nurse starting out with an AA degree can make a minimum of $35 an hour opposed to a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in other fields who could only be making $15 an hour or even less,” said Lolita Hartono, who is part of the main nursing staff at CSUF.

For students such as Mike Almanza, 22, a biology major, nursing is an intriguing career path that he considers a challenge and an opportunity for financial stability.

“I know it is one of the toughest programs to get accepted into and it is one of the most demanding jobs. But there is a future in it and that is something that is questionable with other majors,” said Almanza.

Though the most impacted major, 80 percent of CSUF students who graduate from the program are able to land a job within six months of graduation.

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