Campus: San Francisco State University -- January 16, 2004

New Nursing Program at SFSU

Responding to the critical need for more nurses, San Francisco State University has teamed up with Sequoia Hospital in a new program that will train at least 30 additional students each year and increase the University's undergraduate enrollment of nursing students by 40 percent. The first recruits begin classes in September 2004.

With space limited at the SFSU campus, classes will be held at Caņada College in Redwood City near Sequoia Hospital. SFSU and Caņada College built a partnership in the last two years where University students take child development, business and teacher education classes at Caņada, a two-year community college. The courses are taught by SFSU professors. By fall, nursing classes will be added to the roster.

The new program gives a dramatic boost not only to students hoping to become healthcare workers but also hospitals and medical centers desperately in need of trained nurses.

Each year more than 600 students apply to SFSU's School of Nursing [], hoping to grab a spot in the well-regarded program. Competition is stiff as only 90 new students a year are accepted into the bachelor's of science nursing program and another 50 into the master's degree of science nursing program. The new program will be offered only for students seeking a bachelor's degree.

"We are so full here and we can't stretch ourselves any further," said Beatrice Yorker, the nursing school's director. "The School of Nursing is very pleased to have a partnership with Sequoia Healthcare District that allows us to increase enrollment in an underserved area."

The Sequoia Healthcare District, part owner of Sequoia Hospital, approved the 10-year, $7.5 million deal in December. SFSU and Caņada College are expected to follow suit in coming weeks.

SFSU faculty members and professors will teach theory classes and clinical nurses from Sequoia Hospital will provide hands-on training. Officials expect that many students who enroll in the Sequoia program will live and work on the Peninsula. It's also expected that once the nurses graduate, they will work in the local community.

Faculty members hope to design an accelerated course where student stake less than three years (including summer school) to complete the program. All classes will be held at Caņada, which doesn't offer a nursing program but many science courses, including biology, chemistry and physiology, are filled with pre-nursing students. Students from there typically go on to College of San Mateo, which has a nursing program and others enroll at SFSU or San Jose State University.

The country's nursing shortage comes as students see a well-paying career with opportunities in most areas of the United States. Also adding to the crisis is an aging nursing work force, an aging population and too few available spots in nursing schools.

"Nursing is a very stable profession, and nurses are in high demand across the country. This makes nursing a very appealing career choice, especially in a slow economy," said Yorker, adding that she sees the need for more classroom space and higher salaries to recruit and retain qualified nursing professors.

Also compounding the nursing shortage is a new mandate that took effect Jan. 1, 2004 where California became the first state in the nation to mandate a certain number of nurses per patient in hospitals. For example, nurses in surgical and medical units can be assigned no more than six patients at a time; the number is lower for intensive care units, emergency rooms and labor and delivery wards. Officials predict that an additional 5,000 new nurses will be needed to handle the new ratios. Hospitals will be required to have more nurses on staff, but many officials say the nurses just aren't available.

Contact: Christina Holmes, 415-405-3803

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