Pacific’s new nursing students start soon in a high-tech learning space

University of the Pacific will launch its first nursing program this month, an accelerated degree for those with—and without—a health care background.

More than 500 applied to be in the first group of 40 students who will start the Entry Level Master of Science in Nursing program April 25.  

The state-of-the art clinical skills and simulation labs where students will learn were unveiled at a ribbon cutting March 29 on the Sacramento Campus. The nursing facilities are located on the library’s second floor.

“I’m excited to get started next month. It’s going to be amazing,” said Urangoo Matthews, a student in the inaugural class.

The innovative master’s program is designed to attract students like Matthews who do not have a nursing background. Matthews received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the health care field. I love caring for people and after some soul searching I decided nursing is the profession for me,” said Matthews. “I want to play my part in society to help care for people and be there for them mentally, physically and emotionally.”

Nursing Program Director and Chair Holly Evans Madison, who earned her master’s degree in an entry level program, sees tremendous value in teaching students with varied undergraduate degrees.

“The entry level master’s program brings together people with diverse backgrounds and strong academic skills and prepares them to be the nurses we want to see, both at the bedside and in leadership positions,” said Evans Madison.

Clinical lab with manikins lying in hospital bed

The clinical lab includes state-of-the-art equipment to give nursing students hands-on experience.

To prepare students for those roles, they’ll receive extensive hands-on training using high-fidelity “manikins”—life-sized human anatomical models—in the clinical skills lab. The manikins can be programmed to talk, cough and simulate a variety of medical conditions.

“It makes learning realistic. It takes what you're learning in the classroom and what you've read in your books and gives you a place to practice,” said Evans Madison.

The simulation lab takes the experience to another level. Faculty can provide directions to students from behind a two-way mirror while classmates observe, allowing them to learn from each other.

The new nursing program joins three other Sacramento-based programs recently launched in the School of Health Sciences: Master of Social Work, Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Doctor of Occupational Therapy. “We bring our students from the various programs to learn and work together so when they go out and practice they can provide that comprehensive holistic care that is so needed,” said School of Health Sciences Dean Nicoleta Bugnariu.

The new programs join five other long-established programs in the School of Health Sciences, including Athletic Training, Audiology, Physician Assistant Studies, Physical Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology.

A renowned leader in educating health care professionals, Pacific is also home of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry on its San Francisco Campus and the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy on its Stockton Campus.