Riverside City College received a five-year, $1.67 million College and Career Access Pathways Grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office for its STEM/Nursing Health Science Pathway. The grant will enable RCC to recruit and educate underrepresented student groups to become nurses. Over the course of the grant, College officials expect nearly 1,500 students from Arlington and Ramona high schools to participate, with 435 completing the discipline to become nurses or other healthcare professionals.
According to a 2017 Inland Empire Regional Collaborative Health Industry Workforce Report, the Inland Empire has a nursing and physician shortage. The demand for healthcare services and subsequent industry and employment growth continues to be driven by an aging population that requires more services. In Riverside County, the older adult population is expected to increase by 97 percent by 2030 (from 353,225 to 695,017), with San Bernardino estimated to grow by 107 percent (from 265,699 to 550,488). This will not only drive the overall growth of the sector in the region, but also the types of service worker that will be needed to deliver such services. The report went on to identify that of the 55 healthcare occupations represented in the Inland Empire, registered nurses were the number one needed over the next five years.
Arlington and Ramona high schools were natural partners for this grant due to their current health-related course offerings, as well as diverse student populations. Ramona offers studies in health services and Arlington offers classes in the biomedical sciences. In 2017-18, Arlington enrolled 1,918 students of which 82.8 percent were underrepresented minorities and 72 percent qualified for free federal or reduced lunch programs, while Ramona enrolled 2,154 students the same year which was comprised of 88 percent underrepresented minorities, with 84 percent receiving federal free and reduced lunch programs.
Students participating in the STEM/Nursing Health Science Pathway will be dually enrolled in both high school and college courses. Students will take one college course each semester, beginning in spring 2020 and additional RCC classes for a year after high school. By their high school graduation, students who have successfully completed the seven Pathway classes, earned the required GPA on pre-requisite courses, and met the other pre-nursing enrollment criteria will have earned a seat in the nursing program after just one year at RCC — all before the age of 20.
“The program will provide prerequisite courses for STEM degrees generally and health science degrees in particular, with an emphasis on registered nursing. However, students will have opportunities to prepare for vocational nursing and nursing assistant studies, creating a career ladder or stackable certificates that will offer them multiple choices for entering the profession,” Scott Herrick, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Life Sciences, said. “The STEM/Nursing Pathway will introduce a career and industry focus for students beginning on the first day of the 9th grade and will continue throughout the six years of the program by infusing workplace skills and industry content into academic courses.”
Interested students will also have the opportunity to participate in RCC’s Concurrent Enrollment Program in conjunction with Cal State Fullerton and Cal State San Bernardino, which will allow students to complete a bachelor’s of science in Nursing degree fully at RCC in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Partner hospitals have agreed to work with nursing personnel to create an up-to-date skills map that identifies essential job requirements and will collaborate to align technical skills and workplace competencies with developed curriculum course offerings. Students will also have time in their schedules for a full range of workplace learning, including workplace visits, job shadowing, and internships. The STEM/Nursing Pathway intends to establish a college-going culture by having students begin taking college credit-bearing courses no later than 10th grade. By preparing students for college-level coursework, remedial coursework at the post-secondary level will not be necessary.
“We hope to pull back the veil on opportunities associated with nursing,” Herrick said. “There will also be opportunities for STEM/Nursing Pathway students to pursue other STEM- focused careers in areas like engineering, basic research or even medical school, by leveraging the opportunities uniquely available to RCC students, such as the Bridges to the Baccalaureate project.” RCC and UC Riverside are partners in a National Institutes of Health Bridges to the Baccalaureate (B2B) grant.”
The B2B grant aims to identify RCC students committed to pursuing a career in science and facilitate their transfer and successful completion of baccalaureate degrees in STEM majors at UC Riverside, with a specific focus on biomedical science-related research.
In order to successfully orchestrate the STEM/Nursing Health Science Pathway grant to ensure student success, the College will need to collaborate with high school faculty to ensure course content prepares students for college-level work and identifies appropriate college courses to include in the program’s scope and sequence, ensuring that students can earn an associate degree within six years of beginning the program, Herrick said.
Students will also have the benefit of CENTURY Learning Technology and Awecademy programs. CENTURY Learning Technology creates constantly adapting pathways for students and powerful assessment data for teachers. The students will have a personalized learning path made up of micro-lessons and each path is generated by the platform’s understanding of how an individual learns best and constantly adapts to provide the support or challenge they require.
“Data shows that as students complete and revisit content, their understanding improves by an average of 30 percent,” Herrick said.
CENTURY Learning Technology will be available to STEM/Nursing Pathway participants in order to help them understand and succeed in STEM studies. Awecademy programs cover a wide range of multidisciplinary themes including exponential technologies, A.I. ethics, moonshot thinking, finding transformative purpose, mindfulness, life, love and death, and future studies. Awecademy’s curriculum is based on the latest findings from neuroscience and mind-brain education.
“It focuses on inspiring a sense of awe and wonder and allows learners to reach millennial goals and solve global challenges,” Herrick said. “The STEM/Nursing Pathway will use Awecademy to integrate unit(s) on STEM in the Guidance 45 class to inspire and motivate students to pursue the STEM/Nursing Pathway.”