In an effort to diversify their offerings and populate new majors, Westmont is in the process of expanding their impact through the Westmont Downtown program. One new offering is an accelerated nursing degree program, the first post-graduate program in the history of the college, made possible by a partnership with Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara.
The post-baccalaureate program takes sixteen months with four consecutive semesters and no summer break. Upon completion, students will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, or a BSN. However, the program itself does require a previously earned bachelor’s degree at Westmont College or another institution. Through clinical work, a skills lab, and a state-of-the-art facility, the program will enhance Westmont’s ability to explore the liberal arts education in a new medium.
“Everyone knows that we can only have 1,200 students on campus, but that does not limit us everywhere else: in Santa Barbara, in California, or in the world,” shared President Beebe in the fall when discussing the future expansions to Westmont’s downtown presence. Westmont alumni suggested that the college work on enhancing their regional impact. This expansion will begin with a long-term goal to diversify curriculum options in the downtown program by 2027.
Dr. Eileen McMahon McQuade, Associate Dean of the Faculty, shared, “This accelerated program has some significant prerequisites related to the Westmont GE and the specialized nursing classes, so while a graduate with any major at Westmont could apply to the BSN program, the majors with the most overlap with the prerequisites would be biology, chemistry, kinesiology, psychology and sociology.”
The inspiration behind the nursing program came from the severe shortage of nurses in California, which is likely to only get worse. “Cottage Hospital actually approached Westmont inquiring if we would ever consider starting a nursing program. That caused us to realize that developing such a program might be a real, tangible way for Westmont to serve our local community and demonstrate how a liberal arts degree is great preparation for a challenging and interdisciplinary career, like nursing,” said McQuade.
The nursing program will launch in 2022 upon approval from the California Board of Registered Nursing. Westmont is hopeful that this approval will culminate in fall 2021. Until then, RN nursing program consultant Kim Hoover continues to work toward a program that teaches Westmont students “not only the skills, but [how] to communicate to every person that ‘I am here for you.’”
Although Westmont is still working to find a program director and seeking approval from the board, Westmont student representative Zion Shih is “hopeful for further integration with the Santa Barbara community and the flourishing of Christian liberal arts with science, as well as continued integration of student, faculty and Santa Barbara resident feedback.” Westmont students and community members can expect more information on the program as progress is made toward its 2022 start.