Ashley A. Smith, EdSource
Despite the high demand for more nursing, some California college students find it difficult to get into nursing programs.
This is an issue that California Community College student senate leaders want to confront in order to eliminate the controversial lottery system that has prevented some students from becoming nurses.
Of the nearly 80 nursing programs offered at 115 campus colleges, some use a lottery system to admit applicants. Some students have complained about years of waiting lists preventing them from continuing their studies.
“We will have a lot of nurses quitting due to Covid and we won’t be able to replace them quickly enough,” said Kaitlyn Bourne, a former student senate and transfer student in Humboldt state. “Why not create a ubiquitous system for attracting students to nursing? Do it first come, first served. “
In a first come, first served system, students will be enrolled as they enter the nursing program.
It is unclear how many colleges use the lottery. A 2019 report of 77 community college nursing programs found that 47 campuses used a multi-criteria selection process that assessed any degrees or certifications they already have, GPA, volunteer work, job interviews, references and life experiences, such as a first-generation student or from low-income families.
The other 30 used first-in-first-out, modified random, pre-rates, or random lottery.
Each campus with a nursing program decides how they want to admit students, but in a written response from the Chancellor of California Community Colleges, screening appears to be most effective in reducing student dropout by multiple criteria. program to completion compared to other methods.
“Colleges use multi-criteria (process) monitoring for adverse impacts on diversity and so far the data show no negative impacts,” said Rafael Chavez, a spokesman for the chancellor’s office.
But some colleges do not have the staff or resources to offer a multi-criteria selection process.
“We use the lottery because we don’t have the staff to handle 150 or more applications,” said Roberta Farrar, director of nursing at Redwood College in Humboldt County. “We have one person: me.”
The College of the Redwoods recruits approximately 40 students annually for the first year of the program. This means that students can spend about a year or two on the waiting list for the program. And the college doesn’t have enough funds to open many more places. The program uses a computerized lottery to qualify for the program.
Limited finances, a small number of clinical centers, and faculty fatigue have limited the number of students who can participate in nursing despite the need to participate in these programs and California’s huge shortage of nurses, Farrar said.
A new report from the University of California San Francisco Medical Professionals Research Center on Long-Term Care estimates a shortage of 40,567 full-time registered nurses that is projected to continue through 2026. a large number are planning to retire or quit within the next two years.
The report also showed that California produces fewer nurses.
Community colleges and universities across the state have had to cut enrollment, skip new classes and reduce class sizes during the pandemic, in part due to the inability to place students in clinical rotations where they receive hands-on training.
“These programs did not have resources to deploy online or remotely in classrooms like in private schools,” said Joanne Spec, director of the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Research and co-author of the report. “Policymakers need to support government nursing education programs to ensure a steady flow of nurses into the health system.”
Farrar said a first-come-first-served system would not work either, because the college accepts applications from all over the state. Due to limited space on many campuses, the College of the Redwoods accepts applications from students who do not intend to relocate to Humboldt County or stay in the community to help address the nursing shortage in rural Northern California.
“When I get someone from San Diego with no intention of staying in Humboldt County, it doesn’t help us,” she said.
The lottery system helps students get off the waiting list faster, Farrar said. Accepted students receive two grace periods before being forced to reapply.
“We get applications from other states, from the state; people send me (nursing exam) results and haven’t even applied, ”she said. “They apply to as many schools as possible to see who will take them first.”
Bourne, a student helping write a bill that will end the lottery process in medical schools, said the student senate doesn’t just want to open the door to more applicants.
“We also want to pass a separate bill to increase funding for community college nursing programs,” she said. This funding will go towards increasing class sizes, more incentives to hire nursing instructors, and possibly a way to pay hospitals for additional clinical training opportunities.
The Chancellor’s Office agrees that additional funding and resources from the Legislature will help.
Chavez said help could be obtained by offering hospitals incentives to rotate health workers to community colleges and universities, offering higher salaries to registered nurses as a recruiting tool, and changing rules to extend clinical training times in those areas of the hospital. who do not provide direct patient care.