CSU nursing programs decrease, Sac State nursing strong

Lauren Greenwood

The California State University’s nursing programs have been downsizing across the state, but Sacramento State’s nursing program will not be decreasing enrollment now or any time in the future, department officials said.

Sac State’s nursing program attracts more than 400 applicants for 80 spots, said Ann Stoltz, chair of the nursing department.

According to the 2010-11 CSU Undergraduate Impacted Programs Matrix, all 17 of the CSU campuses that offer nursing education programs are heavily impacted.

Stoltz said while other campus programs are impacted, the Sac State nursing program has enough funding and clinical placements for students to sustain the amount of students accepted and enrolled in the program.

“Right now, it’s not a matter of clinical agencies for Sac State. Right now, there are no directives to decrease the size of the program. So far, we’re OK,” Stoltz said.

Freshman nursing major Leanne Orino said faculty have allowed third- and fourth-semester nursing students volunteer and serve as a resource for new nursing students.

“The faculty has been very accommodating and because they are limited,” Orino said. “(The students) can come in for advice and technique improvement for when a professor isn’t available.”

Although the department has had its budget reduced, Stoltz said it is looking at bringing in private donors to increase the quality of the program.

“We do see the need to expand, but we won’t be expanding until the economic crisis stabilizes. We were just awarded a $500,000 grant from the Doyle Foundation, and we are currently looking at more outside sources to better the program,” Stoltz said.

Stoltz said the department’s relocation to Folsom Hall will provide a good foundation to expand the program once the budget turns around.

Despite being named in Galt’s Guide to Top Nursing Schools in California, some of the nursing program’s graduates have had difficulties finding a job after graduation.

“In previous years, even two years ago, 90 percent of students had jobs before they graduated. Now, I don’t know percentages, but it’s taking many about six months,” Stoltz said. “We haven’t had to track graduate employment because it wasn’t an issue before.”Orino described the job market climate as overwhelming, knowing that others have faced struggles.

Stoltz said students are having to look for employment outside of the Sacramento region. She knew of a group of students who took jobs in Reno and moved in with each other while commuting back to Sacramento for school two days a week. Stoltz recommended that students be open to working in rural areas because of the high demand.

Stoltz said that students just need to wait because the average age of a nurse is 45 to 48 and they will soon retire. After that, Stoltz said, will again be huge need for nurses.

Although the nursing department has its share of financial hardships, Stoltz said she and the rest of the faculty members are committed to making sure the department’s integrity isn’t compromised and that they will not decrease enrollment.

“This will turn around in the next two years,” Stoltz said. “(When it does turn around), we will be happy to accommodate more students.”

Lauren Greenwood can be reached at [email protected].