CSULB nursing students battle for few spots in program
When Laura Allen applied for a spot in Cal State Long Beach’s undergraduate nursing program last semester, the chances were slim — not of finding a job as a nurse, but of being accepted into the program.
According to Beth Keely, the director of the nursing undergraduate program, there are approximately 1,300 pre-nursing students on campus.
The number of students with hopes of becoming nurses, which varies each semester, is far too many to accommodate.
The shortage of spots in the major is due to inadequate funding to hire new faculty, according to Keely.
“By state law each clinical faculty member can supervise a limited number of students in the hospital,” Keely said. “Based on the number of faculty positions that are hired, it restricts the number of students the nursing department can take.”
Keely said only 90 students per semester are admitted into the nursing program.
Allen, 21, remembers how difficult and rigorous the process of getting into the program was while making sure to take the right prerequisites for the major.
Students who are considering pursuing a nursing degree have to complete four foundation courses: math, English, critical thinking and speech. They then have to take classes in chemistry, anatomy, microbiology and physiology.
After that, students are asked to take the TEAS test, which measures the skills and abilities of nursing program applicants.
“You have to do incredibly well in your classes as well as in the exam in order to get in, which can be quite difficult since science and math can be scary subjects,” Allen said.
Allen said she remembers being frightened and nervous that she wasn’t going to make the cut to get into the program and receive a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Not all employed nurses have this degree, but being awarded one opens the door for higher level health care positions.
“I was so scared I wasn’t going to get in,” she said. “I had good grades and scores, but so did everyone else I talked to.”
According to the California Institute for Nursing and Health Care, 40 percent of new nursing graduates will have trouble finding job opportunities. However, officials said this is not the case at CSULB.
According to Keely, CSULB graduates approximately 340 nursing students per year and, within a year of graduating, most nursing majors have a job.
“We went through the process of receiving our accreditation not too long ago, and the evaluations reported that everyone at least a year out of our program was employed,” Keely said. “It might not have been their very first career choice but the vast majority were working in the field.”
Allen remains optimistic about finding a job after graduating as a qualified nurse.
“I am working on getting my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and CSULB’s nursing department is one that’s really respected, so I’m not too worried,” Allen said.
Keely believes the current economic situation could limit options for nurses, however.
“Older folks in all industries that thought about retiring are not because they can’t afford to give up a steady paycheck,” Keely said. “Therefore, spaces or job opportunities that young nursing students would normally fill are not available.”
Still, Allen said she refuses to let anything get in her way of fulfilling her childhood dream.
She said, “To me, nursing is a career where someone can really make a rewarding difference, and I want to be a part of that.”