Nursing partners with community colleges for new degree

Press release

Sacramento State has been the vanguard of nursing education in California for more than 50 years and is leading the way with a groundbreaking post-licensure degree program for nursing students at American River College, Sacramento City College, and Sierra College.

“This is innovative in the country,” says Dian Baker, coordinator of the new River City Partnership ADN-to-BSN (Associate Degree in Nursing-to-Bachelor of Science in Nursing) Program within the School of Nursing. “We’re reaching out to students while they’re in community college and getting them prepared to immediately transfer in a seamless way to the baccalaureate nursing program at Sacramento State.”

Recent studies, she says, show that a higher level of nursing education results in better patient care and lower patient mortality rates. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has called for nurses to be educated at the baccalaureate, or bachelor’s degree, level.

“In response,” Baker says, “the Sacramento State nursing community and the local community colleges got together to create a very clean transition between the ADN program and Sac State’s baccalaureate nursing program, so that nurses can continue and get their degree.

“We’re strengthening that baccalaureate-prepared workforce, which is what the IOM is calling for to improve safety and care for patients.”

Additionally, Baker says, a baccalaureate degree prepares nurses to teach nursing, for leadership and management positions, and to advance in the clinical-nurse ranks in hospitals.

Starting in spring 2016, the community college students will take one BSN course at Sacramento State while simultaneously completing their associate degree. Once they pass the registered-nurse license exam, they will finish their BSN degree requirements at Sac State.

The University’s nursing program dates to the 1950-51 academic year, when licensed RNs studied for a bachelor of arts degree through the Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. In 1951, then-Sacramento State College introduced a baccalaureate program for nursing-education majors. The pre-licensure BSN degree was first offered in 1958.

Today, nearly 300 nurses graduate each year from the School of Nursing.  And, Sacramento State boasts the best first-attempt pass rate of the nursing licensure exam in the California State University (CSU), averaging better than 97 percent over the last five years.

The School of Nursing’s partnership with the three community colleges is expected initially to bring 40 new nursing students into Sacramento State. Baker predicts an increase in the coming years.

“Under the leadership of Dr. Baker, and with the commitment of our associate degree partners, this program will be a model within the CSU for collaboration and advancement,” says Carolynn Goetze, who retired in August after serving as director of Sac State’s School of Nursing for five years.

“This program expands the School of Nursing’s capability, contributes to meeting the nursing workforce mandate established by the IOM, and provides our clinical partners with an increased pool of qualified applicants meeting their preference for hiring baccalaureate graduates,” Goetze says.

The new ADN-to-BSN degree program will be administered by the College of Continuing Education, with the School of Nursing providing curriculum, faculty, and oversight.

“The College of Health and Human Services at Sacramento State has a long and proud history of providing the region health and human services professionals who are leaders through their innovation, engagement, and impact,” says Fred Baldini, dean of the college. “Over 5,500 nursing students have graduated from the School of Nursing, demonstrating our commitment to meet the needs of our community.”– Dixie Reid