Fresno Pacific's new nursing program could help nursing shortage

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A new nursing program in the Central Valley could be part of the solution to the ongoing nursing shortage.

Fresno Pacific University is one step closer to getting the green light for its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

In August, Fresno Pacific is set to welcome its inaugural cohort. Applications are already open.

"With the pandemic, not only right now, but really, in general, nurses are a big part of healthcare," said Magdelena Ruiz, with Fresno Pacific. "So the need was seen there."

The school currently offers a pathway for working registered nurses to earn their BSN.

Once the new program is approved by the state board, the college will have a BSN pathway for students out of high school or who have no prior nursing experience.

"Like any industry, parts of our industry are aging out," explained Deanette Sisson, the chief nursing officer for Saint Agnes Medical Center.

Saint Agnes is one of several local hospitals that partner with FPU's nursing students.

According to Sisson, the facility relies on local nursing programs to train students who have a desire to serve.

"Being able to have people who are committed to the Central Valley and who want to be nurses is just a huge, important piece for us to get health care back to a more stable point," she said.

Just like many nursing programs, Fresno Pacific's application process will be competitive -- with only 24 open spots.

David Bacci, the regional vice president for the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, acknowledged that some students wait years to get into a nursing program.

This program is a solution to that issue.

"What this program is really doing is adding the number of slots that we have available for potential nurses in the Valley," Bacci said.

He looks at the program as a long-term investment in the Valley, as the need for better access to healthcare continues.

"Because if there's more nurses, people could provide care and get appointments," said Bacci.

The final approval from the state nursing board is expected in mid-February.

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