The Southern California region known as the Inland Empire is facing myriad problems when it comes to health care. Designated by the federal government as a “medically underserved area,” the region of 4 million-plus people is already grappling with a nursing and doctor shortage, as well as high infant mortality rates. These issues are being exacerbated by the needs of the area’s rapidly growing 60-years-and-older population — in Riverside County, the number of residents older than 60 is projected to reach more than 695,000 by 2030 — an increase of 97% since 2010.
To address this acute need for more medical professionals, the Riverside City College School of Nursing is establishing new pathways to nursing careers. A grant from Bank of America, part of the bank’s $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, will help fund programs for students to earn associate’s or master’s degrees in nursing, train to become primary care nurse practitioners, or shift from being a paramedic to a registered nurse. The funding will, among other things, also help the school recruit a diverse pipeline of students and develop curriculum.
The RCC School of Nursing currently serves roughly 600 students each year, with the vast majority staying in the Inland Empire after graduation. In fact, almost 90% of the registered nursing graduates find employment in the area immediately, underscoring the high demand for medical professionals that’s driving this new initiative.