Nurses by lottery

California needs more registered nurses. There are long waiting lists to get into nursing education at community colleges. Yet admissions is by lottery, not academic qualifications, writes Lance Izumi of Pacific Research Institute.

Not surprisingly, using a lottery to choose nursing students results in the admission of many students with low-level qualifications and increased dropout rates because such students can’t handle the tough coursework.

Meanwhile, the most qualified students are the most likely to leave the waiting list for other careers. Izumi quotes Sue Albert, dean of health programs at College of the Canyons in Southern California.

Of the 300 students currently on her waiting list, some have only the minimal math and English requirements and a 2.5 grade point average, while others have completed science courses plus core subjects and boast 3.0-4.0 averages. Yet, says Albert: “It is first come, first serve. It is not based on qualifications. No longer are the best and brightest rewarded for choosing nursing as a career.”

Why the stupid policy? Community colleges are required to be open to all students, so they’re not supposed to discriminate, even when there isn’t enough space for all students.

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  1. D Anghelone says:

    Excelsior College has a large RN program open to Registered Nurses and others. California no longer recognizes the program and is, I think, the only State that does not.

  2. If it’s anything like my university (Purdue) the ones that dropped out of nursing cause it’s, like, hard, just trotted over to the Education Dept. Where they were welcomed with open arms.

  3. The next step will be to dumb down the curriculum to retain students, given the typical bureaucratic reaction to never admit a mistake.

    What a frightening thought!

  4. Alex Bensky says:

    One of the factors here is the comparative lack of respect for nurses. I don’t think anyone would suggest that we allot places in medical school on a first-come first-served basis. I doubt law schools would accept such a system. But it’s OK for nurses because they are, anyway, nurses.

  5. Alex, you’re right. And anyone who’s seen up-close what nursing is today would agree that that’s ridiculous. Last year my mom had a stroke, and I spent close to a week in the hospital with her. It’s downright frightening to think that there’s a mindset that anybody off the street could do what those nurses have to do.

  6. meezer (or anyone else),
    What would be wrong with students who can’t meet the standards of the Nursing program transferring over to Education? I would be hard pressed to be able to complete a degree in English or in Physics but I do pretty decent in my Information Systems courses. For most people Education is an easier major than Nursing but that does not take away from the fact that getting a degree in Education is a worthwhile achievement and a career in Education is an honorable one.

  7. Simple (at least partial) solution – raise the minimum requirements. A paltry 2.5 GPA is pretty pathetic, raise the minimum GPA to 3.0 or 3.5, that will help to lower the pool of eligable applicants and it will help ensure that those who do get in can handle the course load.

  8. “California needs more registered nurses.
    Why the stupid policy? Community colleges are required to be open to all students, so they’re not supposed to discriminate, even when there isn’t enough space for all students.”

    It sounds like the real solution is to expand the nursing programs.

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