Nursing Program Meets Need

Student in lab for nursing program

The demand for nurses in the state of California is a statistic that has been widely quoted by business people and by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“By the year 2014, California will need 132,000 nurses,” he said at a recent career technical education summit. This demand is a reality witnessed everyday by health care providers, hospitals, and doctors’ offices throughout the state.

The demand for nurses also echoes in the corridors of academia, and at California State University Channel Islands, it is a need that is being addressed. Beginning this fall, CSUCI, in collaboration with Moorpark College, will enroll students in one of its new majors: the Nursing Program.

“There’s a huge nursing shortage,” said Karen Jensen, associate professor and director of the Nursing Program at CSUCI. “And until now, students from this region who were interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing had two choices: drive to Los Angeles or go to Bakersfield.”

a group of students in lab holding different devices

In the fall, CSUCI will offer a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, which is something that is only available at three other universities within relative proximity to CSUCI—two universities in Los Angeles, and CSU Bakersfield.

“The option of attending the local Ventura or Moorpark Colleges were very good choices, but it was important for me to also earn a bachelor’s degree,” explained Morganne Gallup, a CSUCI student who recently learned that she was accepted into the University’s Nursing Program. She will begin the program this fall as a sophomore.

Not only is there a demand for nurses, there is a demand from students for nursing programs.

More than 130 students applied for the 66 openings in CSUCI’s Nursing Program. Originally there were only 33 openings in the program, but 33 additional openings were made possible by collaborating with Moorpark College and financial support from all six local hospitals: St. John’s Regional Medical Center, St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital, Ventura County Medical Center, Community Memorial Hospital, Los Robles Regional Medical Center, and Simi Valley Hospital.

different test tubes on table of laboratory

A points system was used to select students who were qualified candidates for the program. Grades in science and mathematics were very important in the points system as well as the applicant’s city of residence. To accommodate the local student population, those students residing within the University’s service areas of Ventura County, northern Los Angeles County or southern Santa Barbara County received more points than applicants from elsewhere.

“I was very anxious from the start,” Gallup said about the admission process. “But I knew in my heart that if it was meant to be, it would happen.”

Gallup and the 65 others who are enrolled in the Nursing Program will earn their BSN degrees from CSUCI, but will do some of their course and laboratory work at Moorpark College because classroom space and the University’s nursing simulation laboratory, which will have human simulators that can be programmed for students to practice specific nursing skills, will not come online until fall 2008.

The demand for nurses is so tremendous, and the salaries, hours, and benefits are so attractive, Jensen said one of the challenges in developing the Nursing Program at CSUCI has been recruiting faculty. CSUCI’s collaboration with Moorpark College also helps fill the immediate need of having faculty members for the program.

another group of students join together to complete lab tests

“They (nurses) are being pulled in other directions,” Jensen explained. “In this county there are fewer than a dozen nurses with Ph.Ds which makes it more difficult to hire full-time tenured faculty.”

CSUCI’s Nursing Program has hired a full-time faculty member, Kaleen Cullen, who will begin lecturing this fall, and as the program grows there will be a need for additional faculty members.

And grow, this program will. Jensen said when CSUCI held its information sessions about the Nursing Program, each session was packed with prospective students. Already there are 425 students who have submitted applications for pre-nursing courses that begin in 2008.

“We have lots of interest,” Jensen said. “With a new program it’s a good problem to have.” CSUCI will commence its first BSN degree candidates in 2010.


The approved Academic Plan for California State University Channel Islands for 2007 included the addition of three new major degree programs, and among those three is communication.

The curriculum of the new communication major was developed with attention given to the growing awareness of social issues and changing ways businesses and organizations communicate to their employees, clients, and stakeholders, and how the role of evolving technologies are driving those changes.

“Our communication degree is unlike any other program in the country in that it is an interdisciplinary degree,” explained Trudy Milburn, associate professor of communication.

What makes the CSUCI communication degree different is that it allows students to choose an emphasis in environmental, health, or business and nonprofit communication. This gives students an opportunity to focus on a specific industry and become immersed in the discourse related to that field.

Communication skills of all types will be focused on in the program. Milburn said that developments in technology during the last 10 years have dramatically changed how people communicate both interpersonally and how they make presentations to groups. Students in the communication major will graduate prepared to effectively facilitate interaction using 21st century tools.

Planning a communication major for CSUCI began in 2005. There was a growing demand for a communication major at other CSU system campuses, and CSUCI learned that communication was a transfer major that interested students at area community colleges.

“As of mid May, 282 students had applied to CSUCI as potential communication majors, out of the 5,500 who applied,” said Dan Wakelee, associate dean of faculty. “That’s pretty healthy given that it’s just opening.”

Approximately 100 new CSUCI students have been admitted to the program and will begin their studies in the fall. Additional students are transferring to the program from other majors. The first students to earn their degrees in communication will graduate in 2009.

Early Childhood Studies

CSUCI soon will offer a new degree program whose graduates will educate infants, toddlers and preschool children. This fall, 25 students will begin their coursework toward earning a bachelor of arts degree in early childhood studies.

Early childhood studies focuses on the development of children from birth to age eight. The program will prepare graduates for multiple career paths including teacher education, early interventionists, infant/toddler preschool teachers, social work, and counseling.

“People throughout this county very much want this program. Currently there are shortages in bachelor and master’s educated individuals within this field,” said Joan Karp, professor of special education and chair of the Education Program. “We expect our program to grow quickly.”

The second stage of growth will begin in the spring 2008 semester when the program adds two more cohorts of 25 students each. Incoming freshmen are choosing the program, and some of the students currently pursuing a major in education are changing their majors to early childhood studies.

The new program also has a partnership with three local community colleges—Oxnard, Moorpark and Ventura—along with Santa Barbara City College, and offers students who have already completed the lower division requirements of CSUCI’s early childhood studies program at one of the partner institutions a seamless academic credit transfer option.

The early childhood studies degree program at CSUCI will differ from other four-year institutions’ programs because it has a specific focus on ensuring students have second language skills—specifically the Spanish language—and an understanding of literacy for young English learners.

The coursework will be heavily based in pedagogy and the application of those skills in a variety of settings that include working with young children and their families from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The first cohort of transfer students to earn their degrees in early childhood studies at Channel Islands will graduate in 2009 and entering freshman will complete in 2011. Within the CSU system, 13 of the 23 campuses, including CSUCI, offer a bachelor’s degree in child development or early childhood. Locally, two private institutions offer undergraduate degrees in this discipline.

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