When Anna Tada was 9 years old and recently immigrated from Japan, her mother was hospitalized, had an operation, and feared she had a cancerous cyst.
Tada was shocked and, although the experience was traumatic, said, “The nurses were amazing. I knew then and there that I wanted to be a nurse. That’s all I wanted to do. “
Thirteen years later, Mom has long recovered from the non-cancerous cyst, and Anna Tada is on her final rotation at Mission Hospital to graduate from California State University’s Fullerton School of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in May do. She will also be the first member of her family to graduate from college.
Tada hopes that her degree and skills will allow her to specialize in geriatric patients.
Being a graduate from Cal State Fullerton will be a bonus on their resume.
Fullerton received top marks in several state and national polls of nursing schools.
Although the ranking of nursing programs can fluctuate and vary widely, CSUF recently received high marks for its graduate programs from US News and World Report and for affordability from Best Value School.com.
The nurse anesthesia doctoral program offered in collaboration with the Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia was ranked fourth nationwide in the US News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools Report. The Masters Degree in Midwifery was No. 21.
On the 2020 list of Best Value Schools, Fullerton was ranked # 4 nationwide and # 1 in California for best value for money and best deals for the money.
In many ways, Tada is what the CSUF School of Nursing is about: an immigrant with passion, compassion, and an urge to succeed as a caretaker.
Penny Weismuller, director of the School of Nursing, which only accepts about 40 incoming freshmen out of 2,000 applicants each year, said CSUF is in the enviable position of being able to select top candidates.
In recent years, the school has also made a focused effort to look beyond mere metrics of academic performance to the heart behind the head.
“We allow smart, competitive people. You have to be strong in the sciences and soft skills, ”she said. “We are looking for students who demonstrate both.”
That breadth extends to areas of racial justice as well, where Fullerton seeks to build a student body of future nurses that better reflects the community
“One of the things is that we are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion,” said Weismüller.
Over the past four years, the School of Nursing for Prelicensure Nursing demographics, which includes freshmen or students with degrees in other fields, were 51% Asian / Pacific Islanders, but only 17% Hispanic and 1% Black .
In contrast, for incoming students with a Nursing Card pursuing a four-year Bachelor of Science degree that accounts for more than 50% of the School of Nursing, the breakdown is 41% Hispanic, 26% Asian / Pacific Islander, and 24% Black.
Towards the end of the diversification of the incoming pool of non-nurses, the School of Nursing took a holistic approach to admitting new students last year.
Weismuller said the school also surveys potential students, although it still requires academic accuracy. Letters of recommendation and essays will also be discussed that reflect life experience, drive, and passion that are not always reflected in pure numbers.
Weismüller pointed out an unnamed candidate for the school who is not only a strong student, but also a daughter of farmworker’s parents who only have elementary school education. She would be the first in her family to go to university.
“This is the kind of person who is committed and will be a great addition to the nursing profession,” Weismüller said.
Speaking of the importance of health care providers who reflect their communities, Weismüller said studies show the importance of cultural awareness and identity, especially in underserved communities.
“When a (health) provider is like him, the care is perceived as better. And it’s better, ”she said.
In a recent Titan Voices column on the Orange County Register, CSUF President Fram Virjee wrote, “The way we judge nursing programs has rightly changed over the past year – and not just in terms of the response from faculties, staff, Students and alumni on the pandemic, but also how they emphasize social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. “
Cal State Fullerton School of Nursing has completed more than 4,000 degrees in 40 years. Lessons range from start to finish.
During the pandemic, CSUF was able to maintain various agreements with hospitals to allow students to continue their clinical rotations.
“At first, hospitals were reluctant to have nursing students,” said Weismüller.
Instead of rotations, students ran clinical simulations or volunteered at the Orange County Emergency Operations Center, vaccination centers, or children’s centers.
Weismüller says rankings can be made with a grain of salt, and that most accredited public and private university nursing programs, regardless of those at nonprofit colleges, are strong and very selective.
“If you want to be a nurse, apply broadly,” she said. “Pick schools that you feel good about. It is important that the school suits you and your values. “