Westmont anticipates inauguration of new nursing program


Siena Keck

Westmont’s downtown building which will house the nursing program

Willow Martin, Staff Writer

In an effort to adapt to the changing needs of the Santa Barbara community, Westmont has begun implementing an accelerated nursing program. The program is scheduled to accept its first cohort in January of 2022. After a successful meeting with the California Board of Registered Nursing on Aug. 25, 2021, the college now looks forward to a meeting with the Education and Licensing Committee scheduled for Oct. 7, 2021.

The meeting will determine if the program can begin teaching a cohort of 24 students as soon as next semester. Although no decision has been made yet, program leaders are confident about the upcoming board meeting and have already begun preparation for the inaugural cohort of January 2022. 

At the root of this progress is a woman named Carol Velas, a registered nurse for over 35 years and the founding director of the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. 

Carol has played an integral role in advancing the program into its third and final stage of approval. “This is our last big hurdle,” said Velas. “The nursing education consultant has told us that she feels very confident that we will not have any problems, and that we should get the recommendation we need to then go to the board meeting November 17 and 18 to get our final approval.”

Velas expressed her excitement, saying, “We have been starting to do some recruiting, we’ve had a few information sessions, we have equipment and supplies coming in daily and we are hiring faculty.” Located in the heart of Santa Barbara on 26 West Anapamu, the new nursing program’s students will enjoy using the first two floors of the Westmont Downtown building, which hold classrooms, a simulation lab, a skills lab and a study space. 

The real value of this program, however, exists outside of the classroom. These nursing students will gain hands-on experience at Cottage Hospital. Founded in 1888, Cottage Hospital is a recognized and well-established health treatment facility in the Santa Barbara area. This partnership will provide participating students the opportunity to work directly with trained and experienced medical professionals. 

“It seems that Cottage Hospital is offering ample hands-on experience through giving students clinical exposure and opportunities,” observed prospective student Sadie Hill. “The nursing program is building clinical spaces that replicate those of Cottage, which give the curriculum a lot of continuity.” 

Carol Velas postulated that prospective students like Sadie Hill can look forward to a well-organized and rigorous program. “They’re going to be busy,” said Velas. “They will be in the classroom two days a week and then in clinical two days a week.” 

Throughout their program, students can expect to enroll in four to five classes per semester and complete multiple clinical rotations, including long-term care, medical/surgical, public health and leadership clinicals. They will treat patients with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and asthma, as well as acute issues, like gastritis, esophagitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease and more. 

Not only will the Westmont nursing program grant students the knowledge and confidence to thrive in the future workplace, but it will also allow students to continue their involvement in the Westmont community post graduation. Hill commented, “I am most excited about continuing my education in the Westmont curriculum and being able to live in Santa Barbara! After spending time building a community here, it sounds ideal and seamless to enter into a program that builds off my Westmont experience.” 

As the program leaders await their final meeting with the Education and Licensing Committee this upcoming Thursday, they anticipate good news for the Westmont community. This program hopes to advance Westmont academics with tangible benefits for the Santa Barbara community as more students feel called to pursue a career in health services amidst the current pandemic. 

To learn more about the program visit Nursing: Coming Soon. 

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