With close to two-thirds of the coveted nursing program spots at City College of San Francisco last year going to students who live outside of San Francisco, college officials are considering a change in policy to give enrollment priority to city residents.
Studies show that the nation is facing a nursing shortage that is expected to worsen as baby boomers age and need more care. With nurses in demand, the number of applicants to nursing programs is on the rise. In California, most community college nursing programs have more qualified applicants than admission slots, according to a 2003 study done by the California Postsecondary Education Commission.
At City College of San Francisco, 640 qualified candidates applied for 80 nursing positions, said the college’s chancellor, Phillip Day, Jr. Of those admitted, only 38 percent, or 30 students, live in San Francisco.
Julio Ramos, vice president of the City College of San Francisco board of trustees, said that San Francisco residents — who have financially supported the community college by passing bonds measures for new buildings and facility improvements — are getting shortchanged.
“We’ve approved $450 million in bond funds for San Francisco residents,” Ramos told The Examiner. “I believe that entitles them to some sort of preference.”
City College of San Francisco uses a random lottery to enroll its nursing program, giving all applicants, regardless of where they live, an equal chance of being admitted.
A number of other Bay Area community colleges, including the College of Marin and College of San Mateo, give enrollment preference for their nursing programs to local residents, Day said, further cutting the odds for San Franciscans.
Registered nurses in the Bay Area make, on average, between $40 and $45 an hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.A resolution establishing residency preferences in the nursing program at CCSF was discussed by the board of trustees on Aug. 23. But the seven-member board tabled the resolution until January to allow CCSF staff, including officials with the nursing program, to review and have input into the potential policy change.
A decision in San Francisco could also be impacted by state legislation, Day said. A nursing education bill authored by state Sen. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, would prohibit a community college from excluding an applicant to a nursing program “on the sole basis that the applicant is not a resident of that district.” SB 139 has been approved by both houses of the Legislature and is on its way to the governor’s desk.
In June, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution — authored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi — urging CCSF to give San Francisco residents preference for admissions to the nursing program.