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UCLA REVIVES NURSING CLASSES B.A., M.A. PLANS TO START IN THE FALL.

Byline: Lisa M. Sodders Staff Writer

After a 10-year absence, UCLA'S undergraduate nursing program is being revived, but health care experts say it will do little to alleviate the critical statewide shortage of registered nurses.

Under the plan by the University of California regents, $5.2 million will be allocated for a bachelor's and entry-level master's degree nursing program at University of California, Los Angeles, beginning in the fall. UCLA would be the only university in the 10-campus UC system to offer the undergraduate degree, which is expected to produce about 50 graduates a year in each program.

``I think it's a wonderful development,'' said Jan Emerson, vice president of external affairs for the California Hospital Association, the state's hospital trade association. ``We really need as many new nursing programs as possible. We didn't get into the nursing shortage overnight, and we're not going to solve it overnight.

``We need to essentially be doubling the number of nurses being educated and graduating from our schools in order to deal with the nursing shortage,'' said Emerson, noting that the state currently graduates about 6,000 nurses a year and will have a shortage of 120,000 nurses by 2020 if more isn't done to train them.

Deborah Burger, president of the California Nurses Association, said she is encouraged by the news, but would like to see more community colleges expand their programs. Community colleges now graduate more than two-thirds of the new nurses in California.

Marie Cowan, dean of UCLA's School of Nursing, noted that the curriculum for the new programs still needs to be approved by the UCLA Academic Senate. But she said school officials are excited at the opportunity to expand its nursing program.

``I think it meets the health care needs of all Californians,'' she said. ``The curriculum is designed to raise the bar of nursing education in California, and the faculty are very excited about it.''

Nursing programs are expensive for colleges and universities because they require low student-to-faculty ratios, have rigorous math and science requirements, and require that students get hands-on training through clinical rotations.

The UC system shut down its bachelor's degree nursing programs more than a decade ago because of state budget cuts, focusing only on graduate nursing programs. The University of Southern California also shut down its nursing program in 2004, citing high costs.

That left the education of bedside nurses to 13 campuses in the California State University system, nine private colleges and the community colleges, including Pierce College in Woodland Hills and Valley College in Valley Glen.

Many programs have years-long waiting lists.

``Trust me, there's more than enough students wanting to go into nursing as a career for everyone to have a full complement of students,'' said Yasmin Delahoussaye, vice president of student services at Valley College, which had 163 applicants for 16 openings and will graduate 43 nurses in the spring.

``It's another possible place for our graduates to transfer to,'' added Paul Whalen, dean of academic affairs at Pierce, which graduates about 40 nurses a year. ``We're very happy about it.''

At California State University, Northridge, registered nurses who have trained at community colleges or in three-year programs can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Officials say a bachelor's degree enables nurses to advance to management positions faster and prepares them for master's degree programs that will enable them to teach.

Currently, UCLA's School of Nursing offers a master's degree for advanced practice for nurses in several fields, including acute care nurse practitioners, family care nurse practitioners, occupational health, pediatrics, gerontology, oncology and administration, and has about 300 students.

That number is expected to grow to 624 by 2010, and the university plans to hire 22 faculty members and five staff members over the next three years.

Lisa M. Sodders, (818) 713-3663

lisa.sodders(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 3, 2006
Words:641
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