SMC Nursing Celebrates a 50 Year Calling

For more than half a century, Santa Monica College has prepared students to start a career in nursing, and with resounding success.

SMC’s first foray into nursing programs was a small job-training program launched in 1966 with funding through the 1963 Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA) and the Federal Vocational Education Act. The program, which provided basic training for students to work as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), expanded in 1967 to offer training to become a Registered Nurse (RN), and also began offering an Associate Degree in nursing.

Over the decades, SMC’s nursing program has continued to evolve in response to changes and advances in the fields of medicine and healthcare. Today, SMC offers the Associate in Science (AS) degree in Nursing Program, better known as the “ADN program.”

“We only accept about 40 students each Fall and Spring semester out of a pool of about 75 to 80 candidates,” said Dr. Ida Danzey, SMC Associate Dean of Health Sciences. “Students apply here because the College and our ADN program have good reputations, the student support programs here are a real asset, and our ADN program has national accreditation.”

The ADN program at SMC is nationally accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN), and approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing. The program prepares students to take the notoriously intense National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX) to become an RN, and does so with great success.

High passing rates on the NCLEX have long been a hallmark of SMC’s nursing program. “I’m so proud of our students,” said Dr. Danzey. “In 2014-15, the pass rate was 100%!”

“I was excited to be able to learn from some very experienced and educated professors, and I knew that SMC had access to great clinical sites in nursing,” said nursing student Chandler May, who was asked why he chose SMC during an interview for the SMC Foundation. “Working at UCLA, I knew many nurses who told me how much they respected the students who had come through SMC. I wanted to be part of that.”

The ADN program—which typically takes two years to complete—requires such a serious commitment of time and effort that prospective students must decide if nursing is truly the right choice for them. To help them clarify their interest and make their decision, the “Is Nursing For Me?” link at www.smc.edu/nursing is provided to help them make their decision.

The program combines rigorous coursework with labs that are very hands-on in nature. At SMC’s Bundy Campus, for example, the Nursing Department operates a simulation laboratory that emulates an actual hospital, complete with nursing stations, patient care areas, and associated ‘headwall’ units, emergency call devices, cubicle curtains, and electronic records system. The skills lab has a Human Patient Simulator “Stan”; a birthing simulator (that simulates childbirth); and many other ‘manikins.’

“We consider the interdisciplinary aspects of nursing very important,” said Dr. Danzey, “so we include simulations with our respiratory therapy program.”

The ADN program also includes onsite ‘clinical’ training at selected local healthcare facilities, including Providence St. John’s Health Center, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, two UCLA Health Systems medical centers, and the UCLA-Harbor Medical Center. Training is also provided at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Southern California Hospital of Culver City, and a variety of clinics and skilled care facilities.

Enrollment in the ADN program is only $46 per unit for California residents. The estimated cost for the two-year program—with books, lab fees, equipment, uniforms, and enrollment fees—is $3,000-$4,000.

But being accepted into the ADN program isn’t a matter of simply filling out an application form and paying the enrollment fees.

Before they can even apply for the program, prospective students must have completed a number of prerequisite courses—some with prerequisites of their own—with an overall 2.7 GPA. Students must also meet other criteria, including a set of minimum physical qualifications and a clean background check and drug screening. Typically, it takes one to two years to complete all the pre-application requirements.

At SMC, the ADN program also encourages and prepares students to transfer to pursue Bachelor and higher degrees. To help students with the transfer process, SMC has established transfer agreements with UCLA and UC Irvine, more than 15 California State University (CSU) campuses throughout the state, and a small number of private colleges and universities.

In addition to the ADN, SMC arranges for advanced placement for Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) who want to become RNs, and offers continuing education for RNs seeking license renewal.

Please visit www.smc.edu/nursing for more details about the ADN program and its requirements.

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