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CARE Member Contributions to The Next Thirty Years

Early Years of the Registered Nursing Program at Chabot College
Submitted by Glenys Wilson
Chabot College

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 live.

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2007 C.A.R.E.

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