Fall 2006 not only marks the beginning of a new academic year, but also the opening of UC Irvine’s nursing major. UCI is the first institution in Orange County to provide a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
With the approval of the undergraduate program in nursing science in May 2006, the pre-nursing curriculum offers undergraduates academic and hands-on experience to become researched-based registered nurses in various healthcare settings. The program will also help students prepare for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing exam in order to become RNs.
The program aims to enroll an initial 25 freshmen and 25 change-of-major sophomores or transfer students so far, there are 27 change-of-major students who have officially enrolled in the program.
‘I really want the message to be clear that there is available space in the major. I don’t want students to miss the opportunity,’ said Student Affairs Officer David Naimie. ‘If we get to the end of the year and don’t fill all 50 seats, it means there’s more space for next year’s applicants. If there’s a student who just isn’t aware of this program and has to compete for a spot next year against a lot of people, that’s a shame because this is their chance this year.’
In order to declare nursing as a major, freshmen must be currently enrolled in Biological Sciences 93 and Chemistry 1A. In addition, freshmen must have satisfied entry-level writing so that they do not have to take Writing 39A.
Sophomores and juniors must have completed Biological Sciences 93, Chemistry 1A-B-C and be currently enrolled in or have completed Biological Sciences 97.
‘In the first two years, students do a sort of slimmed-down version of what a bio major must do,’ Naimie said. ‘The program is not just a bachelor’s in nursing; it’s a bachelor’s in ‘nursing science.’ Ultimately, the idea of a more scientific program is that the students benefit from it and move on to, perhaps, a graduate program and become faculty in a nursing program.’
Students must meet a 2.75 grade point average in all completed courses that fulfill the requirements for the nursing science major. Students who plan to change to or add the nursing science major must have a minimum cumulative UC GPA of 2.0.
This coming November will be the first time outside students can apply to UCI and identify nursing science as their major.
The program in nursing science is funded by various groups that aid in its expansion. The UCI Medical Center and other healthcare organizations have pledged over $2.2 million and the UC Office of the President allocated $520,000 to aid in faculty recruitment, needed space and laboratory equipment.
The implementation of the nursing science major comes at a time when California’s healthcare system is lacking in the number of qualified nurses. According to the California Strategic Planning Committee for Nursing, an additional 25,000 RNs will be required by 2010 in California. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also indicates that over 1 million new and replacement RNs will be needed throughout the United States by 2012.
‘California is in a crisis in terms of nursing shortage, as well as the nation. It’s the number one job in the nation right now,’ said Ellen Lewis, program administrator for Nursing and Allied Health and the driving force of the program in nursing science. ‘The thing that’s unique about nursing is that there are so many opportunities.’
Lewis has had 45 years of nursing experience and has worked for many years at the bedside and critical care area. Lewis coordinated the care for the first heart transplant in Wisconsin in the late 1960s and was the first director of nursing hired at the UCIMC after the university purchased the former Orange County Medical Center in 1976. While she no longer practices at the bedside, Lewis continues to consult, particularly in nursing administration.
‘Nursing is a hands-on profession in terms of interacting with patients who are very ill. It is very stressful, in a sense, because you are working with people who are abnormal when they’re sick,’ Lewis said. ‘When you’re ill you don’t communicate like when you’re normal. When you’re in the operating room, you want to have a nurse at your bedside that will look after your interests. I like to say that scientists look at cells and physicians look at organ systems, diagnose and treat, but the nurse will help you with coping strategies.’
‘I think they’re the strongest, most profound interface in healthcare in the sense of continuity,’ Naimie said. ‘They are there before, after, during the entire health care. It takes a person who has a lot of humility, a lot of integrity, a lot of passion.’
Students interested in enrolling in the nursing science major can visit http://www.cohs.uci.edu or contact David Naimie at email@example.com or (949) 824-1514.