EL CAJON - Grossmont College's nursing department has been awarded a $78,000 grant from the Grossmont Healthcare District to start a weekend and evening training program that seeks to shorten the 1 ½-year waiting period to get into the college's program and also, to address the region's chronic registered nursing shortage.
With the healthcare district's approval of the grant, 20 students will begin an 18-month program in January, attending lecture hours in the weeknight classes and 12 hours of Saturday instruction in clinical settings every week - all at no charge. The hospital district grant will cover the costs of tuition, lab fees, textbooks and uniforms, saving students an average of $2,000.
"This is a partnership that is especially fitting because it is so mutually beneficial," said Dr. Ted Martinez, Jr., college president. "You would be hard pressed to find a better example of a community college part-nering with industry. Our nursing students benefit because it means those with work or family obligations during the traditional work hours can now fit in classes at night and on weekends."
Gloria Chadwick, president of the healthcare district board, said approving the grant was an easy decision for her colleagues because of the benefit to both sides. (Chadwick, a Grossmont College alumna and health services staff member at Cuya-maca College, abstained from voting. The grant request was approved 4-0.)
"The program not only is in keeping with the healthcare district's mission of funding worthy healthcare-related organizations and activities, it also makes a lot of sense to support a valuable resource to the hospital, itself - a well-trained and much-needed corps of nurses," Chadwick said.
The healthcare district board, which approved the grant Oct. 19, is an elected body charged with monitoring Grossmont Hospital, in addition to running a health care grant program for the residents of East County.
Dr. Elisabeth Hamel, the college's associate dean of health professions, said in addition to covering student costs, the grant will go toward the salary of a program coordinator, a clerical assistant and a technician. Additionally, a full-time nursing instructor currently teaching in the regular program will be shifted to the weekend/evening program.
Hamel said the new program will be identical to what's offered now at Grossmont College, except that it will be an accelerated program. Students will attend classes and undergo clinical training year-round, instead of following the traditional semester schedules.
"We want to get students trained and working as fast as possible," Hamel said. "We want to reduce our waiting list."
Grossmont College, which serves the greatest number of nursing students of the four community colleges in the county with nursing programs, currently has a waiting list of about 170 students for its nursing classes. There are 158 students currently in the program. Those at the top of the waiting list will be given priority for acceptance in the weekend program.
Because the hospital district doesn't award multi-year grants, Hamel will return next year before the board to fully fund the weekend/evening program, and will be approaching other funding sources, such as Sharp's and Alvarado Hospital. Continuation of the program after the first 18 months will depend on the availability of funding.
Grossmont College offers associate degrees in both its registered nursing (RN) program and licensed vocational nurses (LVN) to Registered Nursing (RN) programs.