Fresno State Gets Financial Boost to Ease Nursing Shortage

Fresno, CA Fresno State is one of 18 nursing programs in the state to receive the special funding money the university will use to train more students and increase nursing faculty.

Nursing is one of the most sought after majors at Fresno State each semester, dozens of qualified students are turned away because of lack of space.

Dr. Michael Russler, Nursing Dept. Chair: "We're very happy to get the best of the best, but there are a lot of students very qualified potentially 150 a semester that don't make it in."

A new state grant will give 20 more students the opportunity.

The 364-thousand dollar grant from the office of statewide health-planning and development is divided into two parts. The first will allow five additional students into the program, per semester, for the next two years.

"The issue of access is complicated because while we may have money to increase the number of students it takes more faculty."

The second part of the grant addresses the biggest factor in the nursing shortage a lack of faculty to teach students, like Thoutao Lee.

"Edna, you want to go ahead and hold that for him."

Lee worked as an analytical chemist for four years before going back to school to become a nurse.

Thoutao Lee: "Plus, with the nursing shortage there is job security out there where if I decided I didn't like what I was doing I could go and try a different area."

The grant will increase access by putting nursing education courses online.

"Really simply just putting the overhead cameras in here."

Accessible to off-site classrooms and students in rural areas.

"And really within 18 months they are going to be able to turn around and be faculty for the programs and so we increase access by increasing the number of faculty.

The university will also be able to create a full graduate course of teaching with technology.

"The new groups of students that are coming up that are savvy with technology they are going to be demanding that; We like to stand up and lecture but that is not how the new learners are doing it.

Fresno State graduates more than 110 registered nurses each year 85 percent of whom stay in the Valley.

The university recently received a $126,000 stipend for scholarships for baccalaureate students and other grants focused on reaching out to students in rural areas.

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