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Nursing Program Admissions Under The Microscope

New bill could give COC’s Nursing program more options

The California legislature is weighing a new bill that could allow community colleges in the state to offer a wide range of criteria for admission to their nursing programs.


In the past, California community colleges have admitted applicants on less selective terms, such as a lottery or “first come first serve” basis.


This, state assembly member Tom Berryhill says, is causing a problem. Since the mid 1990’s, statewide community college nursing programs have suffered through rising drop out rates, and 27% of students do not graduate. This has created a nursing shortage.


But now AB 1559 has been passed out of the Senate and is headed back to the Assembly for vote. If passed and signed by the Governor, the bill would give community colleges a broad set of criteria that they could customize and use. It is meant to allow the school to pick those applicants with the best chances for success.


“We need as many nurses as we can get right away, and unless we look at which applicants are most likely to succeed in these programs, we will continue to set students up for failure and the nursing shortage will get worse,” commented Assemblyman Berryhill. 


Sue Albert of College of the Canyon’s Allied Health Department said that there is indeed a nursing shortage. COC’s admissions currently require students to take particular classes such as Anatomy, Physiology and Microbiology, along with English 101. Then, their GPA in those particular classes and overall, is weighed with any repetition in taking the classes.


And a recent bill, SB 1309 required merit based admission, using assessment tests. COC has already implemented that new criterion.


While COC is waiting until the bill is in its final draft to comment, Albert says that she is concerned that the school might lose some of its ability to work with students in the program. Currently, COC has a remediation course that students can go into should they not meet the admissions requirement.


She went on to say that there are two missions at COC, one to provide opportunity, and another to properly educate people. Those can conflict if community colleges have to raise their qualifications for admission without providing a way for students to work their way up to the qualifications.


“We want a quality graduate here,” Albert says.


This new bill, however, could also help the school achieve both of its goals. If the criteria could be established by the school, then student preparation could possibly be provided for, and monitored by COC.

Nursing Program Admissions Under The Microscope

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