For most students, faculty, and staff at Sonoma State University, 2020 has not been the year they expected. In addition to contending with the various challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, we were also met with regional wildfires and public safety power shutoffs.
Yet, for students in the Sonoma State University Department of Nursing, the past year has allowed for valuable teaching material not afforded in years past, especially in learning how to handle a public health emergency. The department has a well-established reputation for preparing excellent, well-qualified nursing professionals, and seized this opportunity to contribute to the health and well-being of the world at large.
“The department has a long history, and we are very proud of the reputation we have crafted and the nurses that have come from Sonoma State,” said Anna Valdez, chair of the Nursing Department. “Our students are highly sought after because we prepare them to provide community health to nurse the nation, not just in a hospital. We teach them to nurse populations and to do so with a social justice and equity lens.”
For over 40 years the SSU Department of Nursing has been educating nurses to serve the county, state, and beyond. To date, more than 4,000 nurse practitioners, educators, and leaders have received their nursing training from SSU. They come from across the state and are diverse in their backgrounds and how they came to the university.
Kristina Crichton, is a nursing student in the department’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program. The FNP program serves nurses who are already licensed and want to augment their training with a Master of Science in Nursing. Crichton, who plans to complete her master’s in May 2021, attends SSU while also working part-time as a registered nurse in addition to being a mother to three boys. Despite her workload and the impacts the pandemic has had on her learning environment, it has been her long-held dream to attain a master’s degree from Sonoma State.
“Our FNP program has a reputation for excellence in the community, and I will be proud to be a SSU alum,” Crichton said. “The SSU Nursing Faculty have worked to continue meeting the needs of the FNP students during the rapid and complex changes that have occurred during the pandemic.”
In fact, the Nursing Department offers multiple programs that accommodate incoming students at different stages of their nursing career. Students looking to complete a four-year program, with no prior nursing background, find the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program prepares them for eligibility to take the National Council of State Boards of Nursing exam, otherwise known as the NCLEX-RN exam.
SSU’s Nursing Department is renowned for its excellence in preparing students to pass this rigorous exam. In 2019, the statewide average pass rate was 91.6 percent, while SSU Nursing students' pass rate was 100 percent. Similarly in 2019, the rate in which students were eligible to take the exam within the timeframe their curriculum predicted was 83.6 percent statewide compared to 100 percent for Sonoma State’s nursing students. In fact, SSU’s Nursing program has been logging in 100 percent pass and completion rates since 2017.
“There were many moments where I felt a little terrified to take on a particular challenge but with the support of the faculty and my cohort, I discovered I was capable of success in areas that were completely outside my comfort zone, which is exhilarating,” said Stephanie Hamblin, a transfer student from Santa Rosa Junior College in her second year of the pre-licensure BSN program. “The best part is that you can fuel yourself personally while being a part of something that is much bigger.”
The department offers a Collaborative Nursing Education Continuum Model (CNECM) program for students who are completing their associate’s degree and want to enroll concurrently at SSU to receive their bachelor’s in nursing, otherwise known as a post-licensure nursing program. This program allows nurses who graduate with an associate’s degree to complete their BSN within a year of graduation, enabling them to begin work as a registered nurse while working to obtain their BSN. A BSN is the preferred level of education for many specialties in the nursing field.
Tyra Jordan transferred to Sonoma State from College of Marin and is on track to receive her BSN at the end of Fall 2020. Jordan was recently offered her dream position as a new graduate nurse resident in a local intensive care unit and will begin her new role in February 2021.
“Having my BSN in progress through RN to BSN program gave me a competitive edge in job searching,” Jordan said. “SSU has prepared me for this position by enhancing my critical thinking skills and expanding on my previous associate degree in nursing education by providing me a higher level of knowledge of nursing.”
For more information on which of the Nursing Department’s programs is right for you, explore the different Academic Programs, and visit http://nursing.sonoma.edu.