The Status of Nursing Education in the California Community Colleges

General Concerns
Educational Policies Committee

The nursing shortage in California has prompted legislators to propose solutions that may be well intentioned but fail to recognize the complexity of the issues they are trying to address. In April 2005, the Academic Senate convened a nursing task force, comprised of community college nursing faculty from across the state, to examine the issues raised by outside groups, respond to these issues, and provide possible remedies. The task force organized the information collected around six questions: (1) What are the barriers to recruiting nursing students? (2) What are the barriers negatively impacting nursing education on the campuses of California Community Colleges? (3) What are the barriers making it difficult for students to complete their course of study? (4) What makes clinical placement for nursing students so difficult? (5) Why do students leave nursing programs? Why is there such a high attrition rate? (6) Once students complete their studies and enter the profession, why do so many nurses leave within a short period of time?

The responses and possible remedies reflect the diversity in nursing programs across the California Community College System and the complexity of trying to find single solutions that work for all colleges. In some areas, there is general agreement, such as the need for adequate numbers of full-time faculty to provide supervision and participate in program development, or the challenge of finding adequate slots for clinical placements. In other areas, responses differ greatly, as with respect to enrollment criteria and use of the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Model Prerequisites Validation Study (Phillips, 2002). The remedies proposed in the paper are those of the task force and not official positions of the Academic Senate. The paper concludes with recommendations that echo longstanding positions of the Academic Senate within the context of nursing education in the California community colleges.