PCC, APU Academic Partnership Addresses Nursing Shortage

Joint enrollment program to quickly produce high-quality nurses to meet state demand

PHOTO: Pasadena.edu | SouthPasadenan.com News | Pasadena City College campus


Pasadena City College and Azusa Pacific University have announced a new partnership that will extend access to nursing education for residents of the San Gabriel Valley region and help alleviate the chronic nursing shortage statewide.

This collaboration enables nursing students to concurrently enroll at PCC and Azusa Pacific, earning credits and clinical experience through both institutions. In just six semesters of total program study, PCC’s Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) students will graduate from Azusa Pacific with their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). California healthcare organizations are moving toward hiring BSN-prepared graduates as the entry-level standard.

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The accelerated program elevates the proficiency of nurses entering Southern California hospitals and clinics, moving these students beyond the two-year associate degree and increasing their skill as caregivers. In combining the low-cost, open-access program at PCC with Azusa Pacific’s nationally ranked School of Nursing, students from all educational backgrounds will walk a pathway to a high-paying, rewarding career. APU graduates approximately 4 percent of the newly registered nurses in the state, with an employment rate for all pre-licensure programs at 100 percent within a year of graduation – 90 percent of whom are employed within California.

“PCC’s nursing students are resilient, determined, and dedicated to joining the healthcare workforce,” said PCC Superintendent/President Erika Endrijonas. “The statistics speak for themselves: 96 percent of our nursing graduates find employment, and 86 percent are making a living wage. Our partnership with APU will boost our students to the next level of their careers and bring them to the front lines in Southern California’s world-class clinical environments.”

“This dynamic endeavor between PCC and APU shows what’s possible when public and private higher education work together to place student needs first, fueling their academic and professional success, and helping address California’s critical nursing shortage,” said APU President Paul W. Ferguson, Ph.D., DABT. “Azusa Pacific University nursing graduates are among the most distinguished in the field, valued for their compassionate and competent care. APU looks forward to working with PCC as a model for other such collaborations.”

Baccalaureate-prepared nurses have been shown to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital costs. Studies have shown that nurses with bachelor’s degrees score higher on measures of quality and safety, and earn more. In fact, APU ranks in the top 14 percent of nursing programs nationwide for early and mid-career salaries, according to Payscale’s College Salary Report.

At the same time, bachelor’s degrees can present financial challenges to students and their families. This effort contributes to the Institute of Medicine’s 2020 goal to increase the percentage of nurses who attain a bachelor’s degree to 80 percent by 2020. The National Education Progression in Nursing Collaborative challenged nursing educators to create a seamless model that allows ADN students to complete the BSN degree within 1-2 semesters. The Posey Foundation has worked closely with Pasadena City College to start a micro-lending program through the PCC Foundation that will assist PCC nursing students in completing their baccalaureate education.

Students entering the PCC/APU program will have completed prerequisite courses required for admission to the PCC nursing program. Upon acceptance to the PCC/APU program, the student concurrently enrolls in classes at PCC and at Azusa Pacific, receiving complete student status at both institutions.

The two-year sequence covers 70 units at PCC in courses such as pharmacology, psychology, medical-surgical, obstetrics, and pediatrics, and 50 units at Azusa Pacific, including pathophysiology, research and statistics, ethics and spirituality, and evidence-based practice. After the student’s fourth semester at PCC, students earn their associate’s degree in nursing and take the state licensure exam to become a registered nurse. After completing their final preparatory courses including those in public health nursing at Azusa Pacific, they will earn their bachelor’s degree.

PCC has been recognized twice in the last four years as one of the 10 best community colleges in the U.S. by the Aspen Institute’s Community College Excellence program. In 2017, Azusa Pacific’s School of Nursing was ranked among the top 10 best colleges to earn a nursing degree by USA Today.