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Friday, Dec 1, 2023

COC Receives $200,000 Nurse Training Grant

On Feb. 15, Gov. Schwarzenegger announced that College of the Canyons was one of 18 colleges to receive a grant intended to boost nursing personnel in underserved areas. COC has the distinction of being the only college in the Valley region to obtain such a grant. The college received $200,000 out of a total of $2.7 million disseminated for state nurse training programs. “These programs help nursing students by providing them more opportunities to pursue careers in nursing and help communities by directing more services to medically underserved areas across the state,” Schwarzenegger stated. “This is also a part of my long-term commitment to address California’s nursing shortage by helping to expand nursing programs and improve the supply of qualified nurses in our state.” The funds were made available through the Song-Brown program, which is administered by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and established to increase the number of family practice physicians, physician assistants and registered nurses being trained in the state. It took just about 45 days from the time COC applied for the grant until they were notified of the award. COC’s Dean of Allied Health, Sue Albert, is grateful that the governor awarded such a grant during a period in which California faces serious budget constraints. “Schwarzenegger still recognizes the nursing shortage has not gone way,” Albert said. “The state still needs nurses, quality nurses, to meet the needs of the state.” Albert calls the awarding of the grant a win for the entire college. College administrators are thrilled that the grant will most likely result in more students taking prerequisite nursing courses. COC has tripled its number of nursing students over the years, according to Albert. Last January, the nursing program, which offers a core program, a collaborative program (via video teleconferencing) and an online program, brought in between 30 to 50 students, an all-time high. Altogether, there are 276 students in the nursing program, a significant number of enrollees for a two-year college. Albert believes COC has drawn large numbers of nursing students for the same reason it won the grant: the college is using unique methods to reach students. “We’re reaching out to get (students) more educated, more clinical time,” Albert said. “We have multiple human patient simulators, and we’d like to place some in our outreach labs.” With the grant, which covers a two-year period, COC can hire new skills lab coordinators. The college has four skills labs in the Valley, but a higher number of coordinators would allow the labs to remain open longer, giving students more opportunities to practice. “It makes it more convenient,” Albert said. “This becomes one way to help their clinical skills.” To obtain the grant, COC officials had to defend their proposal during a hearing of sorts in San Francisco. “They ask you to present your background, what you plan to do with this money,” Albert said. During the process, COC was given a score to determine if they should have been awarded the grant. Not only was the school awarded the funds, it also received more money than 11 other grant-winners did and the same amount as two other colleges. Just four colleges received a larger award than COC. The fact that COC received such a sizeable grant may be attributed to the fact that its students work in areas where nurses are in dire demand. “Look at our region,” Albert said. “We have these hospitals with fairly large (nursing position) vacancy rates, so it’s considered to be somewhat of an underserved area.”

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