California bill for community colleges to offer BSNs faces pushback

In February, lawmakers in California introduced a bill to enable community colleges in the state to offer a Bachelor of Science in nursing. The legislation is now facing pushback from leaders at state universities who say it would not actually serve its purpose of enabling more nurses to enter the workforce. 

California State University and Fresno State oppose the bill in its current form, ​Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, PhD, president of Fresno State, wrote in a July 8 opinion piece published in The Fresno Bee. The bill would not change the number of clinical placements at hospitals and as such, he argued, it would not enable more new nurses to enter the field. 

The number of students nursing programs can accept is in large part set by the availability of clinical placements, and without expanding those placements, the bill wouldn't address California's nursing shortage, state universities argue. 

One of the bill's main purposes is to expand access to affordable nursing programs, though students at community colleges may not end up paying less to earn a BSN than they would at state school due to a provision in the state's education code that authorizes community college baccalaureate programs to charge tuition and fees that match their California State University counterparts, Dr. Jiménez-Sandoval wrote. 

He instead proposed a "cost-effective" alternative to the bill: Leverage and scale existing pathways, such as increasing the number of ADN-to-BSN degree programs through partnerships between community colleges and state universities.

"This proven pipeline leverages existing resources, does not require additional clinical placements and can be scaled significantly to meet our workforce needs at a fraction of the cost," said Dr. Jiménez-Sandoval, adding that universities, "welcome the chance to closely collaborate" with education partners to collectively address the deficit of nurses in California. 

Assembly Bill 2104 and corresponding Senate Bill 985 would authorize the Chancellor of the Community Colleges to select up to 15 community colleges that already offer associate degrees in nursing programs to also offer BSNs via a pilot program. 

Sen. Richard Roth's office has said the program would not require additional supervised clinical placements.

"With the difference between an ADN and a BSN being only an additional 30 units of coursework, several ADN programs are well-positioned to expand their offerings to BSN degrees," the senator's office said in February. 

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