At Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, nursing students go through a two year program to become a registered nurse.
“There is a nursing shortage and it's probably going to get worse," Marcia Scott, the Director of Nursing at Cuesta College, told KSBY. "[And] how we fix it is challenging because we can continue to put out 46 graduates a year.”
Tuition costs around six thousand dollars for the two-year program, which includes books, uniforms, and even gas for clinical days. Cuesta College has not raised tuition for the program for the past several years.
“We're down about 50 applicants this year, and that's out of, you know, typically we've had between 300 and 330 applicants for the last couple of years. This year we got around—I think it was 250,” Scott explained.
Marcia Scott said she is eager to see what happens next year. At Cuesta they have a steady stream of prospective students meeting with program counselors and attending information sessions.
“The hospitals have had an exodus of nursing experience. Nurses leave for a variety of reasons, and one of those reasons is stress and fatigue and burnout of this continued situation caring for. Patients in a pandemic, we need experienced nurses in the facilities to mentor and train our graduates, so increasing our numbers alone won't solve the nursing shortage,” said Scott.
Scott says that last year’s grads found jobs that paid about forty to fifty dollars an hour, but she does expect that number to increase.
This May, Cuesta College is expecting to hold the first pinning ceremony for new nursing graduates since the pandemic started with family and friends allowed to attend.