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Chico State

University’s School of Nursing Named One of Finest in California

A nursing student crouches down to help a patient at an evacuation center during the Oroville Dam crisis in February 2017.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

School of Nursing student Shannon Watson, 22, assisted with patient care and health needs for evacuees of the Oroville Dam Spillway Incident at the Evacuation Center at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 in Chico, Calif. The controlled spillway for the Oroville Dam, south of Chico, experienced damage during the week of Feb. 6-12, resulting in the use of the emergency auxiliary spillway and evacuation of over 180,000 people. (Jason Halley/University Photographer)

California State University, Chico’s School of Nursing continues to strengthen its well-deserved reputation as one of the state’s elite programs, from its dedicated faculty and state-of-the-art learning equipment to the impressive pass rate of its licensing exam and the many service-learning opportunities around the North State.

The organization Registered Nursing recently recognized CSU, Chico’s School of Nursing in its annual ranking of “2019 Best RN Programs in California,” listing it at No. 17 out of 126 qualifying schools, up from last year’s spot at No. 20.

Other CSUs listed in the ranking’s top 20 are Sonoma State (No. 5); CSU, Channel Islands (No. 8); CSU, Long Beach (No. 9); Stanislaus State (No. 13); Sacramento State (No. 14); CSU, San Marcos (No. 15); and San Diego State (No. 19).

Since the NCLEX-RN exam, which is used by all state nursing boards across the country to assess a student’s competency, is required for licensure for nursing students to enter the field, Registered Nursing based its rankings on the exam’s pass rate of the state’s nursing programs. Once non-qualifying programs were filtered out, the rankings looked at exam pass rates over the last five years of a program and were weighted by how recently the exam was administered. Read more about the methodology.

Karin Lightfoot, director of CSU, Chico’s School of Nursing, said the program’s faculty members are experts in their fields and involve students in service-learning experiences and research opportunities locally and around the globe.

During the Oroville Dam crisis in February 2017, students from the University’s School of Nursing volunteered at an evacuation center at Chico’s Silver Dollar Fairgrounds to provide medical care for evacuees. And during November’s Camp Fire, nursing students once again answered the call, mobilizing to several evacuation centers that were serving the tens of thousands of displaced residents.

“Our students are dedicated to excellence and serving others,” Lightfoot said. “We have strong relationships with our community partners, which allows our students to engage in hands-on patient care in hospitals and other facilities from Chico to Oroville, Redding, and Marysville.”

CSU, Chico’s School of Nursing offers additional opportunities that are unique to anywhere in the state. The Rural SimCenter provides students with virtual learning experiences and employs state-of-the-art, high-fidelity simulators designed to challenge their critical thinking skills and improve patient safety.

Additionally, through the Rural California Nursing Preceptorship (RCNP) program, University nursing students are placed at rural and semi-rural hospitals around the state for 150 hours of valuable hands-on clinical experience, which also providing critical support for hospitals with limited staffing.

The School of Nursing offers a Baccalaureate of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) and a Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN), as well as an online registered nurse (RN) to BSN program.

“Our online tracks also allow students to complete their clinical requirements within their local region,” Lightfoot said. “We also work closely with our community college partners to help Associate Degree in Nursing graduates transition into the RN to BSN program.”

Every semester, the School of Nursing accepts 40 new students into its Basic BSN program and a cohort of 40 nursing students graduate.

For information on the University’s School of Nursing, visit its website, call 530-898-5891 or email