Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Waiting for room

Chico State’s school of nursing turned away 86 percent of qualified applications for the fall 2013 semester, according to a report presented at the Nov. 5 California State University board of trustees meeting.

Screen shot 2013-11-12 at 8.59.11 PM
Infographic by Robert Harris.

Nursing programs across the CSU system have faced a shortage of faculty and sparse  clinical placements that have hindered them from expanding their departments, according to the report. Programs have also been hurt by their inability to hire and retain nursing faculty because professionals are choosing higher-paying careers in the private sector.

“Right now we are limited to only taking 40 students a semester because of the few clinical agencies we have and the nursing board requirements,” said Peggy Rowberg, a nursing professor.

Faculty salaries and the state’s budget have also hurt enrollment, Rowberg said. To overcome the barriers, the CSU will prioritize these issues in future budgets.

The school of nursing, which has long been an impacted program, has had to limit students based on a search criteria, according to the program’s website. Exactly 80 percent of the criteria is based on grades and a standardized test. Priority is given to California residents and veterans.

Because of budget issues, universities within the system are unable to accommodate every admissible student, said Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for the CSU.

“In the last three years we’ve had to turn away 20 to 25,000 students in general, across the system in every category,” Uhlenkamp said. “With nursing in particular, it’s a very, very competitive space.”

The CSUs are trying to address the shortage of faculty by creating a doctor of nursing practice degree, one of only three doctorates available in the system, he said.

“It will allow us to graduate more people that can teach nurses,” Uhlenkamp said. “It prepares nurses for advance practice and to educate future nursing faculty.”

The CSU system is also looking to expand its clinical placements, he said.

“We partner with outside institutions where they get clinical training, and we’re looking to expand those partnerships,” Uhlenkamp said.

Increasing enrollment in nursing programs and continuing to meet requirements for accreditation has become the main discussion for the CSU trustees and nursing departments, Rowberg said.

“We have already done a few things the report suggests,” she said.

Currently, the nursing program is working toward graduating students already in the program. The department has no immediate plans to increase enrollment, Rowberg said.

“At the moment we aren’t doing anything,” she said. “It’s just not gonna happen anytime soon.”

The board of trustees will be meeting with nursing departments throughout the CSU on Dec. 5 to further discuss the report and the future of the different programs.


Ernesto Rivera and Aubrey Crosby can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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