Admission Policies and Attrition Rates in California Community College Nursing Programs: A Report to Senator Charles Poochigian and the California Postsecondary Education Commission
Most analyses of California's nursing shortage find that too few nurses are being educated to meet future demand. Coffman and Spetz (1999) estimate that state nursing programs need to educate an additional 3,600 students per year between 2000 and 2010, and 5,000 more per year between 2010 and 2020 to maintain an adequate nursing force. Unless the state's nursing education programs can produce additional graduates, the nursing shortage could jeopardize public health. Most community college nursing programs have more qualified applicants than admission slots. In addition, many nursing programs in the state have high attrition rates (some as high as 50%). This study, requested by the legislature through Senate Bill 664, asks whether admission policies affect attrition, what other program characteristics affect attrition, and whether these things affect first-time pass rates on the national nursing board exam (NCLEX). Some of the issues the report examines are as follows: (1) size and demographics of nursing programs; (2) admission requirements and practices of community college nursing programs; (3) selective and non-selective admission strategies; (4) attrition from nursing programs; (5) NCLEX first-time pass rates; (6) best practices of community college programs; and (7) the effect of support services on student success.