In 2007, a $1.7 million grant from John Muir Health helped create the bachelor's degree nursing program at the Concord Campus, enhancing Cal State East Bay’s ability to meet a critical need for well-trained nurses in Contra Costa County. With the average age of registered nurses nearing 47 and an aging Baby Boom population expected to strain the nations’ health care system, an expansion of nursing is absolutely vital.
“Many hospitals were very appreciative when CSU East Bay expanded to Concord," says Carolyn Fong, Nursing and Health Sciences Chair. "John Muir Health gave a $1.7 million grant to start the program; Kaiser Permanente donated funds for two instructors and Alta Bates Summit salaried five nursing instructors from their RN staff. So the program couldn't exist without the support from the healthcare community."
The pre-nursing program at Cal State East Bay allows freshmen and sophomore students to complete their lower division requirements in preparation for applying to nursing programs, not only at CSUEB, but also at community colleges and universities across California.
Once their lower division requirements are met, students not interested in moving on to a nursing career have the option of entering the Health Sciences major, a combined Concord Campus/online program that trains students for employment in other segments of the health care field.
The Concord Campus began offering freshman pre-nursing classes in fall 2008, and today the nursing and pre-nursing cohorts form the core of the campus’s daytime program. A new freshman cluster will begin their program in the fall of 2011.
The pre-nursing program is especially challenging, with students taking as many as 16 units in science and supporting courses. Students new to the college experience need to develop strong study skills in order to meet the competitive demands for gaining entry into the nursing programs at CSUEB and other institutions.
Annie Revelli and Lizzie Mishork, two students from Concord Freshman Pre-Nursing and Health Sciences cohort offer some good advice for incoming freshman.
Annie Revelli is now in her first year of the Concord Nursing program. A 2008 graduate of Miramonte High School in Orinda, Annie was planning to attend an out-of-area university until she received a letter in the mail introducing her to the new freshman Pre-Nursing program at the Concord Campus. “I always knew that I wanted to be a Nurse,” and the Concord program was close to home, “with a set schedule and small classes.” Now an honors student, Annie Revelli is also a member of the Alpha Phi sorority, the same sorority as her older sister at Washington University in St. Louis. “My Alpha Phi sisters (are) always there to help you.”
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Mishork, who graduated in 2008 from Richmond’s Salesian High School, wanted to attend Cal State East Bay as soon as she took a campus tour and discovered the freshman Pre-Nursing/Health Sciences program. She was ecstatic when she was accepted.
Both Annie Revelli and Lizzie Mishork were a part of the first Concord Campus freshman Pre-Nursing/Health Sciences cohort. Lizzie says that having guaranteed classes for her cohort was great. When friends would say they couldn’t get the classes she could say “I was able to get all my classes.” But that couldn’t have been done without the help of her advisor.
Barbara Fisher, general education advisor for the Concord Campus, “was amazing!” both Annie and Lizzie agree. “She was so good; and an advocate for us and very encouraging. Lizzie says. “We wanted to make her proud.”
Annie Revelli and Lizzie Mishork are two of the roughly one in four pre-nursing students that choose to continue in the competitive nursing program at Cal State East Bay’s Concord Campus. Because the nursing program is “impacted” (receiving over 800 applications annually for 165 spots available) students obtaining their pre-nursing and health sciences prerequisites in the freshman pre-nursing program at Concord do not receive special concessions when applying to the nursing program. “We had to work hard, make a plan and stick to it” says Annie. She advises new students to rely on the support they can receive at the campus. “You need to love science and have a solid math background” she continues. “The healthcare field has so many options. My vision was narrow, but after my first assignments (I realized) there is so much we get to do as a nurse.”
Annie advises students to prepare early and study. “Our Concord cohort is a family; everyone is in the same boat as you. So rely on your friends and teachers to help you stay committed.”
Lizzie says “The freshman science classes were really tough!” But I used what I learned in my first class in nursing school. It was worth working so hard.”
Annie wants to finish her degree and continue on to a career as a nurse anesthesiologist. Lizzie plans to be a labor and delivery nurse or a nurse practitioner in women’s health.
They both advise freshman students to connect with their peers and professors early. Both Lizzie Mishork and Annie Revelli plan to serve as mentors to new freshman pre-nursing students this fall.