Christi Myers, center, director of the Lassen Community College nursing program, cuts the ribbon to officially launch the new registered nursing program at LCC on Thursday, Jan. 18. Soon, if LCC meets the unreleased criteria, it may be able to offer a bachelor's degree in registered nursing in the future.

Soria introduces AB 2104 to address California’s nursing shortage — LCC, too?

Today, Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria introduced AB 2104 to establish a pilot program that would allow community colleges to offer a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree.

Lassen Community College Interim President/Superintendent Carie Camacho called the bill “exciting news,”  it is unclear if LCC will be picked as a stie for the new program.

“They haven’t ironed out the details as to how many they’re going to allow to go through the process,” Camacho said. “The last I heard they were thinking of seven schools, but I think they’re going to do seven districts.”

She said LCC would have to apply to participate, but the state has not yet released information regarding the criteria for the program.

But, she said she thinks LCC has a good chance of being selected for the program.

“We will be eligible in the sense that we offer an associate degree in nursing,” Camacho said. “On that front we’re eligible — all the other criteria, I don’t know. The one thing we do have in our favor is because we’re the only educational institution in our area that offers a degree in nursing, we don’t have to fight for clinical space. So many of the schools in the Bay, in LA and San Diego, are fighting for clinical space and there’s not enough clinical space to serve the nurses … We’re keeping an eye on that …  If we fit all the criteria, we are defiantly going to put in for it.”

Just last month, LCC held an open house for its new registered nursing program that features a new, state of the art clinical area for students.

More on the bill
One of the most significant consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in California has been an unprecedented nursing shortage.

California is ranked No. 1 in the US for projected registered nurse shortages. The state is projected to be short 44,500 registered nurses by 2030.

The nursing shortage is directly impacting the lives of our most vulnerable residents, especially in the Central Valley. The lack of nurses locally was a contributing factor in the closing of Madera Community Hospital. AB 2104 will provide students the opportunity to receive education and training close to home, encouraging them to practice locally and serve their community.

AB 2104 – Expanding access to nursing careers
In order to meet the state’s nursing workforce needs and extend these career opportunities to Californians throughout the state, we must expand the role of our community college system.

AB 2104 will take the first step in this process by allowing a limited number of campuses to expand their nursing programs to offer Bachelor of Science in nursing degrees.

This will expand the access to and affordability of these degrees and demonstrate how these opportunities can be expanded further to additional community college campuses.

“The shortage of nurses in California is hurting our most vulnerable communities, many in the Central Valley,” said Assemblywoman Soria. “Expanding access to nursing training programs is necessary to tackle this workforce challenge. AB 2104 will grow our nursing workforce in areas of the state most in need and help us better serve our communities.”

Dr. Carole Goldsmith, Chancellor of the State Center Community College District, said in support, “The San Joaquin Valley faces a significant nursing shortage in a population that is medically underserved and has growing healthcare needs.  Addressing the nursing crisis head on by providing affordable, quality education locally is a crucial step towards providing our diverse student body with greater access to advanced healthcare training. I applaud the leadership of Assemblymember Soria for her commitment to addressing this healthcare crisis, introducing legislation authorizing community colleges to offer bachelor’s degree programs for registered nurses.

“By enabling our community colleges, which already play a crucial role in training the majority of the state’s RNs, this bill will allow us to meet unfilled demand and significantly enhance our capacity to meet local and statewide healthcare needs. We look forward to joining other states who have already adopted this progressive measure.”