Jan 23, 2019

Program offers nursing school alternative

The accelerated master’s program through Fresno State’s Nursing Department gives non-nursing students the opportunity to become registered nurses, or enter the nursing field with any bachelor of science or bachelor of arts degree.

If accepted, students in the program are expected to complete undergraduate material in only 18 months that usually takes most students three years. Upon completing the course work they will graduate in December of 2013 and then pass the exam needed to become a registered nurse.

In spring of 2014, the students will then start their master’s degrees and complete the entire program by spring of 2015. They will attain a master of science in nursing with an option of clinical nurse specialist and nurse educator.

With this degree, graduates will be eligible to teach clinicals at the university level, didactic course work at the junior college level or work as a clinical nurse specialist in the acute care hospital setting.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a field aside from nursing and complete eight pre-requisite courses. Applicants must also apply for the university and the nursing department.

Mary Barakzai, chair of the Nursing Department, said a group of 30 students will be accepted into the program that begins in May.

“We look a lot at their professional experience,” said Penny Lacy, the admissions coordinator for the Nursing Department. “What they have been doing since they graduated plays a huge role in the selection process.”

Some applicants may have worked as accountants or lawyers and decided they want a career change.

“A lot of it has to do with willing to be a novice again,” Barakzai said. “Giving up that expert role they’ve had for so long.”

This will be the third batch of students to go through the accelerated program.

“The one thing that people have underestimated is that it is compressed and very fastpaced,” Lacy said.

The accelerated program is year round with limited breaks, so it is easy to fall behind. “Students know that if they can keep up until the end the rewards are worth it,” Lacy said.

“This program is special because students don’t have to have a perfect 4.0 GPA in order to be selected. It is a much smaller pool of applicants,” Barakzai said.

Derrick Dill is in his third semester of the entry-level master’s program at Fresno State.  This covers the exact same coursework, but is not as fast paced as the accelerated program.

Dill received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at Sonoma State. He is on track to become a registered nurse in the three years that it takes a normal undergrad student. After that is completed, he has another three years of school to receive his master’s degree and finish the program.

Even though he took 20 units and played on the college tennis team while receiving his bachelor’s, Dill said the difficultly of the nursing program is incomparable.

“I survive day-to-day,” Dill said. “It’s the volume of the work that makes it hard to keep up.”

Dill says the class workload is much heavier and that it’s not uncommon to have four exams in one week.

The material is demanding for a reason. The nursing students know that in order to be prepared for their career they must receive the proper education.

“We’re not flipping burgers. We have people’s lives at stake,” Dill said.

Dill is looking forward to the opportunities this career path offers.

“You get a chance to give back,” Dill said. “I like helping people — It makes me feel important.”

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