UCI nursing program officially becomes a school


UC Irvine nursing students put on their scrubs for class this week ready to practice their care and examination skills as scholars of the newly approved Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing.

After receiving approval from the University of California Board of Regents last week, UCI’s 10-year-old nursing program has achieved school status, making it the fourth nursing school in the UC system.

“A school level is just so much more prestigious,” said the nursing school’s founding dean, Adeline “Adey” Nyamathi. “We’ll be able to move strongly on the vision we have for the school.”

That vision involves expanding nurse-managed community clinics.

“The campus has long desired to have our nursing program become a school,” UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said in a statement. “A terrific combination of public and private support will ensure a top-quality education for many more talented students — and enable us to hire nursing field leaders to train them — to help fill the pipeline of prepared healthcare professionals.”

Last year, the William and Sue Gross Family Foundation committed to giving $40 million toward establishing the UCI nursing school. The contribution was the largest gift in UCI history, according to a university news release.

It will make possible the construction of a state-of-the-art building to increase classroom size and research space, the university said. The school hopes to break ground on the building in the next two to three years, officials said. The location has not been announced.

Bill Gross, co-founder of Newport Beach-based Pacific Investment Management Co., or PIMCO, is a University of California alumnus who earned a master’s in business administration from UCLA.

His wife, Sue, is president of the family foundation, which has donated to healthcare and educational institutions around the world.

UCI offers nursing students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

“I’m the first person in my family to go into the medical field,” said Katelyn Sonksen, a UCI student in her third year in nursing science. “In high school, I volunteered at Saddleback [Memorial] … but I’ve been able to get a lot of hands-on experience that I wouldn’t get to do as a volunteer, like doing injections and IVs.”

A classroom for nursing students at UCI’s Berk Hall has multiple hospital beds filled with mannequins.

On Tuesday, a group of UCI juniors put on gloves to practice putting IVs in the mannequins’ rubber arms.

They moved on to practice checking one another’s temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate and pulse.

“There’s a lot to do with learning how to interact with people … holding a conversation and establishing a connection,” said David Bisares, a junior in nursing science. “As a nurse, everything you do you’re doing for the patient.”

Twitter: @AlexandraChan10