Smith nursing bill signed into law

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: College of the Canyons student nurse Lauren Deckman, left, prepares to give Hinnani Rabih of Valencia his flu shot as he joins the hundreds people who attended the L.A County free flu shot event held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Friday, November 15, 2019.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1051 into law Friday, giving exemption to how long an adjunct nursing instructor at a community college nursing program can teach during a given semester.

The long hours required in the clinical component and clinical rotations of a course can quickly exceed the hour cap part-time faculty are given in order to be considered part-time employees in the community college system, according to the Senate analysis of the bill.

Previously, 170 hours per semester was the cap, which would not cover the total amount of time needed to finish the course off with their students, according to Mary Corbett, nursing program director at College of the Canyons.

“Adjunct instructors can (under current law) complete approximately 80% of the clinical instruction for a course and then another instructor would come along to finish the course,” said Corbett. “This bill would ensure continuity in instruction.”

Community college programs, such as COC’s, are critical to the nursing field, Corbett said. And analysis of the bill says that reestablishing an exemption for the adjunct faculty would allow community colleges across the state to serve at least 351 additional students per year in nursing programs.

Community colleges leaders have said an exemption to the adjunct faculty cap, which gave adjunct nursing faculty more hours, allowed them to be more competitive with the private sector in hiring and retaining faculty.

“College of the Canyons is an important contributor to providing excellent, trained registered nurses who have a significant, positive impact on the health of Santa Clarita Valley residents,” Corbett said. “The support this bill provides will make our already outstanding nursing program even better.”

Smith, in a statement Friday, agreed with the sentiment regarding the importance of community college nursing programs.

“Community college nursing faculty, and all nurses throughout our district are essential to the health and well-being of our community,” the assemblywoman said. “They provide a vital service to health care in California, and with a growing need for nurses in our state, AB 1051 will allow greater opportunities, educational quality and employment pathways for this expanding and well-needed vocation.”

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