Campus: Fullerton -- July 19, 2006

CSUF Curbing California's Nursing Shortage

Cal State Fullerton is finalizing plans for a new advanced degree program in nursing that is designed for students with non-nursing baccalaureate degrees. The "entry-level" master's degree program provides course work and clinical experiences needed to qualify students for licensure as a registered nurse (RN) and awards a master of science degree in nursing (MSN).

Applications for the new program are being accepted through July 31. The university plans to admit 60 students on a "conditional" basis for the fall semester, which begins in August. The students can then take the required prerequisite courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, English, speech, statistics, critical thinking, psychology and sociology or cultural anthropology, said Mary Wickman, the program's planning director.

Wickman, hired this year to head the program, was director of the RN program at Santa Ana College, where she worked for 15 years. She also served as chair of the nursing department at Mount St. Mary's College. She has a doctorate in nursing from UCLA.

CSUF's new master of science in nursing program will be on an accelerated track, Wickman said. Initially, the degree will be directed toward students who want to study nursing but have bachelor's degrees in other fields, she explained. Presently, all nursing students pursuing bachelor or master's degrees in nursing at CSUF already possess RN licensure.

Planning for the development of the new program was made possible by a $300,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente. Eventually, Wickman said, the program will be expanded to offer a prelicensure baccalaureate degree in nursing.

"This accelerated, or innovative, RN to MSN program should be beneficial not only to students but also to the community at large, especially as the baby boomers are aging and demanding more healthcare services," said Roberta Rikli, dean of the university's College of Health and Human Development.

"The state of California and Orange County are in the midst of a severe nursing shortage," Wickman said. "Conservative estimates suggest that Orange County will need 800 new RNs per year for the next 10 years. . . . Our accelerated MSN program will produce advanced degree graduates who are prepared to meet the community need for nurses and who are able to assume clinical leadership in all health-care settings and are prepared to implement evidenced-based research, outcomes-based practice and quality improvement strategies."

CSUF's accelerated prelicensure program will be the first of its kind offered in any accredited college or university in Orange County, she said. It is anticipated that it will take students 18 months to complete the prelicensure course work and another 15 to 18 months to complete the MSN degree.

Wickman said plans to build a high-tech skills lab are in progress. The lab, once ready, will contain an estimated $250,000 worth of computer programs and audiovisual materials that will allow nursing students to practice skills in a simulated patient-care environment, she said.

"Having a nurse with an advanced degree and able to look at the care of the patient from a more global perspective is beneficial to the public," Wickman said.

Applicants for the new program can be submitted online through Prospective students may call (714) 278-3819 for additional information.

Contact: Mary Wickman at (714) 278-2126 or
Roberta Rikli at (714) 278-3311 or
Mimi Ko Cruz, Public Affairs, (714) 278-7586 or

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