Simpson University Starts RN Program

Attired in matching black surgical scrubs, and with one day of class under their belts, Simpson University’s first class of prospective registered nurses was introduced Wednesday at a ceremony that officials described as a watershed moment for Redding’s only four-year university.

The 26 students—several of whom plan to use their skills in Third-World countries—are scheduled to graduate in the spring of 2013 with bachelor’s degrees in registered nursing.

Stanley Clark, Simpson University’s provost, said the new bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program is intended to address a chronic shortage of nurses in the north state and advance the faith-based university’s mission of world service.

In addition to instruction at a campus lab brimming with state-of-the-art technology, nursing students also will benefit from rotations at partnering regional health care facilities such as Mercy Medical Center, Shasta Regional Medical Center, St. Elizabeth Community Hospital, Northern California Rehabilitation Hospital, Oak River Rehab and public health departments in Shasta and Tehama counties.

Clark said the move toward a BSN program began in 2007 when Simpson added the 16-month RN-to-BSN “step-up program” to its School of Continuing Studies – or ASPIRE program. A year later, work began on the four-year BSN program.

“Years from now, I’m sure we’ll look back at the launch of the BSN program as a landmark for this university,” said Larry McKinney, Simpson’s president. He noted that Simpson is celebrating its 90th anniversary and its 21st year in Redding. During those 21 years, more than 7,000 students were graduated with bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

The next step, McKinney said, is a capital campaign to raise about $1 million more for a health and science building to house the BSN program – a structure that’s expected to cost about $3.5 million. The BSN program currently occupies a modular classroom building adjacent to the Owen Center on Simpson’s College View Drive campus.

For their first three semesters in the BSN program, students are considered pre-nursing students and focus on general-education and prerequisite classes. They enter the BSN program midway through their sophomore year. The BSN program is under the direction of Jan Dinkel, a nursing instructor with 44 years of experience, and the three-member faculty includes Dianne Livingston, Louann Bosenko and Paul Herman.

Nursing students will spend a fair amount of time in the lab caring for “Stanley,” a lifelike programmable mannequin that can exhibit symptoms ranging from normal breathing to a full- on “Code Blue” cardiac arrest. A two-way mirror allows instructors to observe students as they check on Stanley’s condition, administer medications and note his vital signs.

Back in the classroom, students and teachers review the various interactions—most of which are recorded on video—and discuss any missed steps or other types of care that might need improvement. “We can create everything from the first week of class to the end of the fifth semester,” said Bosenko, adding that Simpson has the only 3G mannequin north of Sacramento.

Students will get plenty of time with flesh-and-blood patients as well, Livingston said, thanks to partnerships set up with regional hospitals and nursing homes. First up for the inaugural BSN class will be a focus on gerontology to ensure students will be prepared to meet the needs of aging Baby Boomers.

Livingston said five BSN students will receive additional hands-on experience in March when they spend their spring break participating in clinic missions to Nicaragua and Mexicali, Mexico.

The university also is tailoring its BSN curriculum in response to health care reform trends, Livingston said, noting that registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees are authorized to provide nursing care outside of hospitals. The BSN graduates also will be eligible for certification as public health nurses.

For more information on the BSN program, address email to

Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. He can be contacted at

Jon Lewis

Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at