The Valley is short on nurses, and a new program to help fill that gap is recruiting now at Fresno Pacific University.

FPU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program is accepting applications for its inaugural cohort of 24 students to start in August 2022, after receiving final approval by the California Board of Registered Nurses (BRN) Education and Licensing Committee in February.

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BRN approval means a program meets all professional standards to equip students with advanced skills and training and prepare graduates for a rewarding career. With its commitment to developing leaders and integrating compassionate faith with the latest knowledge to serve the community, Fresno Pacific goes even further.

“The creation of this program at FPU has been an answer to the call and mission of the institution. The Christian education that students receive here is transformational,” said Tara Sirvent, Ph.D., dean of the School of Natural Sciences, home to all nursing education at the university.

Collaboration with the region’s medical and health care community has been crucial to building the new BSN program, and health care providers are happy to see the university grow in its role as a provider of high-quality professionals. “For decades, the nursing shortage has been critical in the Central Valley—and even more so with the onset of the pandemic,” said Daniel Davis, vice president and chief nursing officer at Community Medical Centers. “Community constantly looks for ways to provide more access for local students who want to join the frontlines caring for our region’s patients. We are excited about the new opportunities that will come with the growth of Fresno Pacific University’s program.”

Leading the program is Mary Wickman, Ph.D., who brings over 40 years’ experience to her position as interim director. She is a retired captain in the U.S. Naval Reserves with a background in maternal-child nursing and nursing education/research. Wickman has been a staff nurse and nursing coordinator/manager at hospitals around the country and held administrative roles at Santa Ana College; Mount St. Mary’s College; California State University, Fullerton; and Vanguard University. Her scholarly activities include publications, presentations, book chapters, research and grants. She earned her bachelor’s from Mount St. Mary’s College and her master’s and doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The university plans to hire four additional faculty members to fill put the existing instructional staff.

Filling the need

The University of California at San Francisco states that California faces a shortage of more than 41,000 nurses and that would persist until at least 2026. Further, in 2020, 26% of registered nurses aged 55-64 said they plan to leave the field in the next two years, up from 12% in 2018.

“I am so thankful that FPU can provide 24 slots to train nurses and that our program is founded on Christ and academic excellence which will equip students with the leadership skills, moral conviction, dedication to their profession and professional abilities to make a positive difference for patients in our Valley,” Sirvent said.

The new BSN offers two study options:

  • The new pathway for students to enroll at FPU without prior experience in the profession and who may be right out of high school. The first two years of the program provides the general education and necessary prerequisites to equip students for the competitive entry into the last two years of nursing-specific curriculum and clinical practicums.
  • The pre-existing degree completion RN-to-BSN pathway for registered nurses seeking further education and career opportunities. Acquiring the BSN provides a means for higher earning potential, develops professional integration and leads to leadership and management opportunities. 

Sirvent thanked many who have supported the conceptualization and implementation of the BSN program over the last five years, including: Karen Cianci, Ph.D., former dean, School of Natural Resources; Alan Thompson, Ph.D., associate professor of biology; Rox Ann Sparks, DNP, retiring program director and chair of the nursing department; Don Diboll, Ph.D., associate professor of kinesiology; Sandra Isaak, MSN, associate professor of nursing; Magdalena Ruiz, DNP, assistant professor of nursing; and Stacy Wise, DNP, former chair of the nursing department.

The new BSN program will build on FPU’s success with its RN-BSN program for registered nurses and its Master of Science in Nursing with a Family Nurse Practitioner emphasis. More on all nursing programs at Nursing Programs at Fresno Pacific University | Fresno Pacific University.



Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations