Calif. Aims To Address Education Gap in Health Care, Other Fields
As part of a wider workforce trend, more California health care systems are looking to hire nurses and other workers who have obtained bachelor's degrees, the Sacramento Bee reports. However, more than half of new nurses in the state currently graduate with two-year associate's degrees.
To close the gap, California is considering offering bachelor's degrees through community colleges.
Hospitals Seek Nurses With More Education
Hans Johnson, a researcher at the Public Policy Institute of California, said 40% of all jobs in the California workforce will require a bachelor's degree within the next 10 years, up from about 33% now. For example, Sutter Health in Sacramento is shifting toward a model that will require bachelor's degrees for 80% of its nurses.
Anette Smith-Dohring, Sutter's workforce development manager, said hospitals are looking for more-educated nurses because of the increasing complexity of patient care. She said, "It's not that [current nurses] aren't qualified, but there's a lot they can't learn in just four short semesters."
Details of Community College Baccalaureate Program
A bill (SB 850), which has been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown (D), aims to create a pilot program that would permit up to 15 community colleges to begin offering bachelor's degrees. Currently, nurses and other workers with two-year degrees must seek further education at private or out-of-state schools, according to the Bee.
However, bachelor's degrees in nursing through community colleges would not immediately be offered under the bill, as it prohibits the campuses from offering degrees that already are offered by the University of California and California State University systems.
The bill could address education gaps in other health-related professions, including offering bachelor's degree programs in:
- Dental hygiene;
- Radiology technology; and
- Respiratory therapy.
Lawmakers have not yet discussed which programs specifically would be offered under the bill.
Vince Stewart, vice chancellor of government relations at the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, said it could take up to two years to establish the degree programs because those that are selected must be accredited (Koseff, Sacramento Bee, 8/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.