A $1.67 million state grant to the Riverside Community College District will provide funding for a program to begin educating future healthcare professionals on essentials in the field while they’re still in high school, it was announced Monday.
According to the district, the College & Career Pathways grant will provide resources for up to 1,500 students from Arlington and Ramona high schools — both within the Riverside Unified School District — to focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers, concentrated primarily in healthcare.
“The program will provide prerequisite courses for STEM degrees generally and health science degrees in particular, with an emphasis on registered nursing,” said Scott Herrick, an associate professor in the Department of Life Sciences at Riverside City College. “However, students will have opportunities to prepare for vocational nursing and nursing assistant studies, creating a career ladder or stackable certificates that will offer them multiple choices for entering the profession.”
Beginning in the spring 2020 term, selected high school students will be able to take a credited college course focused on healthcare, and there will be additional opportunities later for internships, workplace visits and other proactive learning experiences.
The goal is to have students fulfill pre-nursing requirements and meet the required grade point averages to enter the RCC nursing program by the time of their high school graduation.
About 435 students are projected to stay on track to become full- fledged practicing nurses or work in closely related healthcare capacities.
“We hope to pull back the veil on opportunities associated with nursing,” Herrick said. “There will also be opportunities for STEM/Nursing Pathway students to pursue other STEM-focused careers in areas like engineering, basic research or even medical school, by leveraging the opportunities uniquely available to RCC students.”
The Inland Empire has a deficit of qualified healthcare professionals, according to the 2017 Inland Empire Regional Collaborative Health Industry Workforce Report that said one of the key metrics for demand is the size of the senior population.
According to the report, the region’s 65-and-over segment will double by 2030, meaning greater need for nurses, doctors, hospital technicians and others in the healthcare field.