Sierra College: Four-year degree now available

Nursing students first to see fast-track program
By: Eyragon Eidam of the Auburn Journal
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Community colleges are often thought of as a precursor to a university career, but one area college is breaking the stereotype and offering a four-year degree in one of their most popular departments.

For nursing student at Sierra College in Rocklin, a brand new program is offering them the opportunity to get their bachelor’s degree alongside the associate’s degree they normally offer.

The degree program, known as Associate Degree Nursing to Bachelor of Science Nursing program, is the first in what college administrators hope will be an ever-expanding program at the school.

William Duncan, president of Sierra Community College, said the degree offering is part of a cooperative effort with California State University, Sacramento.

“We are excited to offer our students the opportunity to earn Bachelor of Science Nursing degrees at Sierra College in partnership with Sac State,” said Duncan in a press release. “The demand for bachelor’s degree nurses is growing among healthcare organizations and we are ready to help meet that demand.”

Duncan said officials have been in talks with other universities to add bachelor’s degree programs to other departments within the school. 

“We are talking about more ways to partner with other universities,” Duncan said.

Nancy Schwab, associate dean of Nursing and Allied Health Services with the college, said the cooperative effort between the Sierra College and Sacramento State University will give nursing students a competitive edge.

The Institute of Medicine recently recommended 80 percent of the nursing workforce have their bachelor’s degree by 2020, according to Schwab. 

She said fast-track partnership programs, though more labor intensive, will allow students to complete both their associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree in nearly the same amount of time.

“It’s going to give them a viable option,” Schwab said.

Despite the newness of the program, Schwab said she does not like to think of it as a pilot program.

“I don’t like to look at this as a pilot because I think it’s going to go forward no matter what,” Schwab said.

Cari Dawson Bartley, trustee on the Sierra College Board of Trustees, said the Placer County area is in need of four-year degree programs.

“There is so much need in our area for people to be able to get a four-year degree and not necessarily have to go to UC Davis…,” Bartley said.

The nursing program works with 40 students each semester.

Interested candidates will be given the opportunity to apply for the 13 dual-degree program slots at the end of the fall semester and will begin classes during spring 2015.

They will be the first group to graduate with both degrees from the community college.