Community colleges could soon offer baccalaureate degrees

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IVC logoIMPERIAL - Chief Executive Officers with the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association are proposing to offer baccalaureate degrees for selected majors in high demand.

Carmen Fitzsimmons has been a registered nurse for more than 24 years. She also trains aspiring nurses at Imperial Valley College. She attended IVC and went on to receive her bachelor degree from San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus.

Fitzsimmons believes having the four year nursing program offered at IVC would be beneficial, “It would make it much easier for the nurses there at IVC. They already know the program so they can just jump over to the BSN.”

She also says it’s a good idea. Hospitals are looking for qualified nurses, but most medical centers won’t consider a nurse without a BSN. If you have completed a four year university you have a better chance of getting hired.”

Recently, San Diego and Imperial County community college leaders voted to support offering a four-year degree.

If the state gives the go-ahead, the four-year program would only be offered for majors with high workforce demands.

Dr. Susan Carreon, associated dean at IVC said, “Just certain career-tech fields where the Cal-State systems doesn’t have the capacity or if there isn’t a program in that area, then it would make sense that the community colleges would be able to offer a baccalaureate degree.”

Carreon says there’s a good chance the nursing program will be one.

“There is a need for more baccalaureate degree-prepared nurses. There’s been a push at the national level and at the state level for more nurses to have a baccalaureate degree.”

She believes a four-year program would encourage the nursing students to continue with their education.

“The baccalaureate degree gives them a little more depth. They have more research, more public health, more leadership. It strengthens the nurse to have that background.”

But until community colleges can offer a four-year degree, Fitzsimmons has a word of advice for aspiring nurses. ”I encourage them to continue with their schooling and get their bachelors.”

Before such a program can go into effect at community colleges, it will have to pass through the state legislation.