The GCC nursing department will be the college’s main beneficiary of the passage of Proposition 47, which will bring the campus $9,196,000 for a new building and will allow for expansion of the program.
The building will replace the current aviation building, and an entire floor will be dedicated to the Allied Health Department.
With the passage of local bond Measure G in March, about $6 million was set aside for the nursing program, but that was “not enough to build a building,” said Sharon Hall, Associate Dean of the Allied Health Division. The state measure will provide that funding.
Funds from Measure G may be used to buy equipment and resources needed for the program.
According to Hall, the new building will greatly help to expand the nursing program and offer more opportunities to interested students.
The nursing program is divided into two fields of nursing; Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) and Registered Nurse (RN).
LVN is a one-year program that offers basic training for a nurse with a narrower scope of services, but LVNs are only allowed to work under the direction of doctors or RN’s.
The RN program is a more advanced two-year program, which trains students in how to carry out the tasks necessary of a nurse.
In California, there are very few baccalaureate programs for nursing. About 70 percent of nurses come from a two-year associate degree program like that offered at GCC.
“This is not good because we need people with higher degrees of education,” said Hall. “We have moved from training nurses to educating them.”
For the past two years, GCC has been working with Cal State universities on a grant. The overcrowded Cal State nursing programs are three-year baccalaureate programs. They send their students to GCC for their first year of classes, after which they return to Cal States and finish the program. This way both the overcrowding is dealt with, and the number of baccalaureate nurses increases.
The way the program works at GCC is that after all the prerequisites are met and students start the core nursing classes, they spend a few weeks of the semester on campus learning basic patient care skills, such as taking vital signs. After this, they are sent out, under the supervision of an instructor, to a hospital where they test their knowledge.
Halfway through the semester they return to the classrooms, learn more nursing techniques, and return back to the hospitals to train.
The training hospitals include Verdugo Hills, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Glendale Adventist, Glendale Memorial, and St. Joseph’s in Burbank.
“Students get to see a lot of different patients and different patient populations,” said Hall.
Currently, there is an 11 percent vacancy rate for nurses that hospitals cannot fulfill. In an effort to help the situation, the program has concentrated its efforts into increasing the number of RN’s by encouraging students to become RN’s instead of LVN’s. As a result, along lack of resources and room, the LVN program has been closed.
Now, with the expansion of the Allied Health Department, this program could be put back in to play.
“Before it was so that women would either teach or become nurses,” said Hall. “Now there are so many opportunities open to women to be independent.”
“It’s a very intense job, when the decisions you make really affect peoples’ lives,” said Hall. “You have to be on top of everything.”