Early Years of the Registered Nursing Program at Chabot
Submitted by Glenys Wilson
In 1965 Chabot College accepted its first students into the
Registered Nursing Program. The curriculum had been designed by Dr.
Margaret Harty and adhered quite closely to rather sweeping
revisions made at that time by the California Board of Registered
Nursing. At the time the majority of existing programs were
reluctant to conform to those revisions so, in a way, we had the
advantage of being able to start with them already in place.
Two instructors were appointed, Beverly Levine and I. Beverly's
major was in Medical and Surgical Nursing and mine was in
Psychiatric Nursing. As the first class went through the program,
Instructors who majored in Obstetric and Pediatric nursing were
added. All those who completed the program passed the State
Licensing examination at the first attempt - a record we held for
many years. Our success was in part because acceptance into the
program was limited and those who had demonstrated success in
non-nursing courses they had taken while waiting for a space had a
distinct advantage. A Community College is expected to accept a wide
range of enrollees who are nominally eligible for a given program,
and later on there was a time Nursing programs were required to
accept any student who met the minimum requirements. The nursing
program is demanding and students found it difficult to keep up the
pace and had to drop out. More recently a state-wide ruling now
permits some modification of the eligibility requirements.
Upon the graduation of that first class, Margaret Harty resigned to
accept a position elsewhere and I became Division Chair as well as
directing the Nursing Program. The "Health Science Division"
expanded to include Medical Assisting and Dental Assisting and later
Dental Hygiene and Medical Records as well as a number of general
health related courses which were added.
I continued in the Health Science Division for a total of 24 years,
the last of which were part of a "pre-retirement reduction in load
assignment." For a year or two of that I still was Division
Chair. It really wasn't practical. Too many decisions and problems
needed to be dealt with during my absence. In fairly rapid
succession two Health Science faculty members became Division Chair.
Both are retired now, and currently the program is supervised by Dr.
Nancy Cowan who has been in that position for several years.
During my 24 years at Chabot, I embarked on a program at the
University of California Medical Center toward a Doctoral Degree in
Nursing. The program was relatively new at the time and included
some courses in the school of Public Health in Berkeley. I took the
various course requirements, and in one mighty effort during the
summer and a one quarter sabbatical leave in the Fall of 1974, I
completed the dissertation and qualified for the degree.
In 1965 when Chabot College started its program there were
relatively few programs offered at the Associate degree level. Today
Associate Degree programs graduate the largest number of Nurses
eligible to sit the licensing examination.
That has given rise to a relatively new trend. It is now possible to
enroll (usually on a part time basis and sometimes with the
sponsorship of employers) in programs designed to assist registered
nurses with A.A. degrees to "upgrade" to Bachelor Degrees. For some
years I participated in one such program, teaching a wide range of
evening and weekend courses at several Bay Area locations. One year
I was voted "teacher of the year" in that program. At the now ripe
old age of 85 I am no longer active but I still enjoy helping to
guide young women (and men) toward who are seeking nursing careers.
I also guide a group of 7 inactive registered nurses and 2
physicians who form a loosely defined First Aid group in the
"Earthquake Preparedness Group" at the residence facility where I
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