Gold Star Program
Bakersfield College (BC) earned Gold Star recognition under the Strong Workforce Stars program for its Registered Nursing (RN) program. The Gold Star is the Strong Workforce Stars’ highest recognition and is awarded to career education programs that meet each of three criteria related to student outcomes that help move the needle on workforce development. Specifically, students who participate in this program boost their earnings by 226%, 87% attain the regional living wage, and 97% report securing a job closely related to their field of study.
BC administration attributes strong workforce outcomes to several key characteristics. Industry support is one example. Registered Nursing Program Director Carla Gard shares, “Our community partners are definitely dedicated and work with us closely.” The program has an advisory committee that meets twice a year, and staff from local hospitals and health agencies participate. In these meetings, RN faculty like to learn what trends are occurring at health facilities and the qualifications of their program alumni. Recently, the program worked with industry partners to improve the onboarding process for students in internships and externships to better align student and hospital expectations.
Student support is another characteristic identified that leads to strong workforce outcomes. Gard describes, “With the use of enrollment grant monies, we've been able to hire tutors that serve all the different levels within the program. I also have an adjunct faculty that I have brought on board to work with the fourth semester students mostly, but she works with everybody.” RN faculty track students’ academic progress. One strategy in use is if students are not performing at 80% or better on exams, then they are referred to a Success Coach, who provides individualized support to implement improved learning strategies and use academic resources available to the student. Gard noted that these student support systems have been effective: “It's worked really well. I just got our recent [National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)] pass rates back, and we’re at 98%, which we had last year too.”
The RN program provides its students job-search training, where students develop a portfolio with their resume and any certifications they may have received. Mock panel interviews are conducted with the students’ classmates serving on the panel and providing constructive feedback. RN program administrators have found this training effective. Gard noted, “We always get rave reviews from our employers that [our students] are very professional during their interview process, and they're very impressed with that.”