Nursing program receives grant to support students and address statewide shortage


President and Superintendent Dena Maloney talks about the El Camino College nursing program at a Board of Trustees meeting Monday, Oct. 21. The board unanimously approved a $161,075 grant that would help and expand nursing programs on campus. Omar Rashad/The Union

A $161,075 grant to curb attrition rates at El Camino College’s nursing program was accepted by the Board of Trustees at a meeting Monday, Oct. 21.

The Board of Trustees (BOT) voted unanimously to approve the 2019-2020 Assessment, Remediation, and Retention for Associate Degree Nursing Programs grant designed to meet the growing demands for registered nurses in California.

“There’s a shortage of nurses, and so this grant provides the opportunity to develop some innovative ways in which we can support the completion of our nursing students,” President and Superintendent Dena Maloney said.

The grant is funded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and is designed to increase enrollment and passing rates in nursing programs by providing additional academic support to nursing students to fill employment vacancies across the state in the future, according to the CCCCO.

“You have to take a lot of very challenging courses meeting the [nursing] prerequisites, and, once in, the program is really challenging,” Maloney said. “It’s challenging not only in terms of content — what you are learning — but it’s also challenging in terms of the time it takes.”

Nursing students at ECC must pass the curriculum approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing to earn their associate in science in nursing (ADN), which qualifies them to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Students must pass the NCLEX-RN to work as registered nurses in the state of California, according to the program’s requirements.

The grant includes funds for tutoring, NCLEX-RN test preparation and faculty professional development, with the goal to help nursing students succeed, Maloney said.

During the meeting, Trustee Kenneth Brown said that he was concerned about the grant’s funds not being used to expand the number of seats in the impacted nursing program.

“The reason why I was really concerned is because nursing is really impacted. There’s a huge waiting list to get into nursing and the board has been talking about trying to expand the number of seats. I was hoping that some of the grant money that we voted tonight to accept would help with that. We heard from President Maloney that it was not directed for that but that is something that is on our minds because we need nurses and there’s not that many programs around,” Brown said.

Vice President of Academic Affairs, Jean Shankweiler, said the grant allows for renewed remedial opportunities for struggling nursing students.

“If the [nursing] students have trouble at the beginning in some of their courses, they might be asked to step out of the program, do some remediation to get where they need to be to get back in, or, get the support while they are in [the program],” Shankweiler said.

Prospective ECC nursing students must complete prerequisites and be accepted into the nursing program to take advantage of the grant funding opportunities, Shankweiler said.

Nursing students are in a challenging program beginning with the prerequisites all the way through their clinical experiences, Maloney said.

“You are in class, at clinical sites, at hospitals, you are studying very late in the night,” Maloney said. “The support needs are for tutoring, peer assistance and just general support for success. This grant allows for that.”