Valley nursing programs see applications increase during COVID-19 crisis

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't caused many to shy away from the medical field.

Data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing shows enrollment into programs for a Bachelor of Science degree increased by almost 6% in 2020.

The increase can also be seen across the Central Valley.

"We could not believe it," said Sylvia Miller, Fresno State's School of Nursing chair. "For the fall, for our 60 slots, we had 500 applications."

The pandemic has caused concerns about the future of nursing programs, but Fresno State's nursing school chair said it's been promising to see such high application numbers.

"Those are the individuals who really want to help our people in the Central Valley," Miller said.

Fresno Pacific University's two programs for working registered nurses looking to get a master's or bachelor's have also seen a positive impact during the pandemic.

"We have seen a tremendous change in our numbers and actually now have two cohorts per year for the FNP program," explained Magdalena Ruiz, nursing professor. "So this has been an increase in our enrollment within the last two years."

Ruiz added that many of the nurses enrolled are working long hours at hospitals, and haven't lost interest in the field.

"Being an RN, already knowing what the sick patients look like, you want to help them, prevent the sickness, be healthy, and stay healthy; and not only one patient but the community," said Ruiz.

As the Valley deals with a severe nursing shortage, local healthcare facilities are eager to get more nurses on the floor, and these local programs are striving to help make a difference.

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