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Educating the next generation of nurses
CSU Stanislaus Nursing Program prepares students for real thing
Nursing Program 1
Students in the Pre-licensure Track with the School of Nursing at CSU Stanislaus practice taking vital signs on a simulated patient. - photo by ALYSSON AREDAS / The Journal

California State University, Stanislaus student Erick Padilla had no idea that all the afternoons he spent after school waiting for his dad to pick him up from Oak Valley Hospital would ultimately inspire him to become a nurse.

“My mom was a certified nursing assistant at Oak Valley Hospital so after school when I was done with sports I would go wait at the hospital for my dad to pick me up,” said Padilla. “I would spend my time hanging out with the patients and hear my mom’s coworkers saying how good of a nurse she is.

“Eventually that sprung me to do some research into nursing and from there I felt like I had found my true calling,” continued Padilla.

Currently in his second semester in the Pre-licensure Track with the School of Nursing at CSU Stanislaus, which awards students with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing upon completion, Padilla has been fascinated with various aspects of the program, including learning the importance of conducting thorough assessments for each patient.

“We do assessments first thing when we see patients, so that was one of the most important classes,” said Padilla. “Once we assess them thoroughly head to toe, we can make sure that they are getting the care and treatment they need.”

Not only is the baccalaureate program helping Padilla get on the right track towards a career in nursing, it has also drawn attention to his “caring side” as a person.

“I interact with patients at the hospital and give them the one-on-one treatment to help lower their stress and anxiety, as well as teach them how to take their medications and manage their disease,” said Padilla. “It makes it all worth it to just make a patient’s day and for them to tell me that I’m doing a good job as student nurse.”

Padilla is one of 180 students currently participating in the Pre-licensure BSN Track at the university’s School of Nursing, which was started in 2002 upon the request of community partners, including Doctors Medical Center, Emanuel Medical Center, Memorial Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Medical Center—all of which felt the need to address a registered nursing shortage throughout the state.

The Pre-licensure BSN Track at CSU Stanislaus does exactly that as School of Nursing Director Debra Tavernier reports that of the nursing students who obtain their education at CSU Stanislaus, 97 percent stay and work right here in the six-county region served by the university.

“We educate them here and we want them to stay here,” said Tavernier.


The director reported that although the BSN Track typically receives 500 applicants during each submission period in fall and spring, the impaction of the program only allows the accommodation of 30 students each round—an issue that is associated with decreased funding for the CSU system.

“Because of the small class size, we are able to recognize pretty quickly when students are struggling and intervene,” said Tavernier. “Additionally, we have a stellar group of faculty and staff to prepare students to do well for the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX.”

Decisions on which 30 students are ultimately accepted into the nursing program in fall or spring are strongly merit based, with applicants needing to demonstrate good grades, have a background working in health care, and possess the ability to speak a second language.

“Our students in the bachelor’s program are expected to learn critical thinking and use evidence-based research in their nursing practices, which leads to expert clinical reasoning,” said Tavernier.

Tavernier revealed that, with the help of faculty, staff and experiential learning, CSU Stanislaus students who took the NCLEX upon completing the program in 2014 had a first time pass rate of 96 percent—approximately 11 percent higher than the average nursing student nationwide.

According to Tavernier, the high rate of academic success is just one aspect to boast about the Pre-licensure BSN Track at CSU Stanislaus. The director also noted that the program is diverse, with approximately 55 percent of students coming from different ethnic backgrounds, including a significant number of male students.

The director is not the only one recognizing the achievements of CSU Stanislaus’ School of Nursing, as the program was also ranked 26th out of 442 nursing schools by in their “America’s Best Nursing Schools 2015—Western Rankings” list.

To formulate these rankings, took into consideration the quality, affordability, convenience, satisfaction and value of each program. With its overall score of 95.03, CSU Stanislaus was only 17.30 points behind the top school, CSU Dominguez Hills.

“I was thrilled to find out how well we are doing, but it is a fact that we already knew internally,” said Tavernier. “However, to confirm the thoughts of the local area and community partners and what we already knew intrinsically was a fabulous honor.”

To view the complete rankings visit