COS Step Up nursing program on hold while search for instructors continues

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News

Over the past year, the College of the Siskiyous has had a difficult time finding qualified instructors to teach in its nursing program, said Rhonda Brown, the intern head of nursing – and the lack is beginning to affect students. The school's LVN-RN Step-Up Program, which offers Licensed Vocational Nurses the opportunity to become Registered Nurses, is on hold. 

College of the Siskiyous

“It’s been a very difficult job finding nursing instructors,” Brown said. “We’re doing the best we can to get people in the community to step up.” 

COS has hosted virtual job recruitment events with hospitals and clinics throughout the region, encouraging applicants to apply. The school has also worked with Siskiyou County hospitals, including Fairchild in Yreka and Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta to find qualified candidates. She said they hope to hire two instructors. 

The difficulty comes since there are strict minimum qualifications that are implemented statewide by the California Board of Registered Nurses. In addition, those who are already nurses often don't want to become an instructor, since nurses normally make at least two times a nursing instructor's salary. 

The need for nurses has never been greater amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and finding qualified instructors is an issue at colleges across the state, Brown said. If things don't change, the situation could worsen.

Brown is hopeful the California State Legislature may eventually be able to step in and make changes to the state nursing board's rules so other candidates could be allowed to teach.

Currently the COS nursing program has an intern director, and two instructors and adjunct instructors. 

In a brochure being distributed to encourage people to apply to become instructors at COS, Jennifer Embury, an RN who was educated at COS said the nursing program was crucial for her.

“To have this program available in this county is a treasure,” she said. “I went from working minimum wage with no security to quadrupling my income with a career that is recession proof (and pandemic proof) all while getting my education locally. ...The stability and income I am able to provide for my family is all because of the COS Nursing Program.” 

More:COS LVN program recognized as 'best value' in California

Embury said her life would have turned out differently if it wasn’t for the program and the "incredible instructors" she met along the way.” 

“It's going to hurt hospitals and communities if we can’t provide enough nurses for our hospitals,” Embury said. 

The desired qualifications for nursing instructors at COS are:

 • Two years of experience as a registered nurse providing direct patient care in an acute care setting.  

• At least one year of previous experience teaching in a pre-licensure nursing program. 

• Recent clinical or teaching experience in one of the five areas of nursing as outlined by the BRN: Medical/Surgical, Maternal/Child (OB), Pediatric, Geriatric, or Mental Health Nursing, and sufficient experience in at least one other area to meet BRN approval through a remediation process.  

 • Administrative experience in a nursing education program with potential to advance to Assistant Director duties.  

 • Excellence in teaching (enthusiasm, knowledge of subject matter, student motivational skills, diverse teaching methods to address a variety of learning styles).  Experience with Canvas Learning Management System. 

 • Sensitivity to and understanding of the diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds of community college students.  

 • Ability to teach nursing courses at the community college level.  Commitment to community college education as demonstrated in personal and/or professional experience.

• Ability to work collaboratively with colleagues, students, other on campus groups, off-campus community groups and educational partners.  

•  A strong commitment to remaining current in the discipline with evidence of professional development through continuing education.  

• Ability to communicate clearly with students and staff, both orally and in writing.  

• Interest in and/or ability to use relevant and modern technology in the classroom, including videoconferencing and online instruction 

For more information on the COS nursing program, go to www.siskiyous.edu/cte/nurs/, or call (530) 938-5929.