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Cal State Fullerton’s Nursing Program Receives $5 Million Grant from CalOptima Health to Build a Diverse Workforce

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CalOptima Health has approved a $5 million grant expanding Cal State Fullerton’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

“CalOptima Health recognizes that our mission to serve members begins with having a strong health care workforce to deliver quality care,” said Michael Hunn, CEO of CalOptima Health. 

“The challenge of health care worker shortages at organizations across Orange County drove CalOptima Health’s landmark community investment in a $50 million Provider Workforce Development Initiative. Our grants to Cal State Fullerton and other educational institutions will tackle the problem at its roots by funding training and education for tomorrow’s caregivers for the Medi-Cal population,” he added. “Closing workforce gaps and building provider diversity is the foundation of health care equity for our members.”

CalOptima’s initiative recognized Cal State Fullerton and the programs of six other area educational institutions or groups: UC Irvine, Concordia University, Chapman University, Coast Community College District, Santiago Canyon College, and Orange County United Way. 

CSUF’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program builds a pathway from the associate degree in nursing to a bachelor of science in nursing and is designed to increase the number of nurses entering the workforce and to diversify that workforce. CalOptima Health’s grant boosts the collaboration with Orange County community college nursing programs to increase CSUF’s enrollment slots for Bachelor of Science in Nursing students. The grant funds a stipend to nursing students in the last two semesters of study and requires a commitment to work in Orange County following graduation.

The five-year, $50 million CalOptima Health Provider Workforce Development Initiative is designed to increase access to high-quality, equitable care for members by investing in strategies that aim to close gaps and shortages in Orange County’s health care workforce. Through a competitive process, grantees will receive funds that increase opportunities for education, training and development, recruitment, and retention of health professionals needed to serve CalOptima Health’s diverse members.

“The CalOptima Health grant will assist community college nursing students and graduates with critical financial support that will speed their acquisition of the baccalaureate in nursing at Cal State Fullerton and benefit the nursing workforce in Orange County, “ said Penny Weismuller, director of CSUF’s School of Nursing. 

“The health care system nationwide is facing a severe shortage of workers across multiple specialties,” said Cal State Fullerton President Sylvia Alva. “We are excited to partner with CalOptima and local community colleges to expand our capacity to educate more nurses in Orange County. It takes partnerships and collaborations like this to fully respond to the needs of our region.”

In 2019, CSUF approved an agreement with Cal State San Bernardino and Riverside City College formalizing a plan for a dual-enrollment cohort program. The plan targeted goals of greater retention and completion by enabling community college students to earn their bachelor’s degrees in the same span of time as students who enter the CSU as freshmen — four years. 

“CalOptima Health’s grant is an investment in Titan nurses who will shape health care’s future,” said Kate Bono, interim dean of CSUF’s College of Health and Human Development. 

Cal State Fullerton has advanced nursing education in Southern California for nearly 50 years, offering a highly competitive, diverse program from the bachelor’s degree to the doctorate in nursing. CSUF graduate programs continue to be top-ranked in the nation year after year and offer specializations in leadership education, school nursing, women’s health care – midwifery.

About CalOptima Health

A county-organized health system, CalOptima Health provides quality health care coverage for low-income children, adults, seniors and people with disabilities in Orange County, California. CalOptima Health’s mission is to serve member health with excellence and dignity, respecting the value and needs of each person. CalOptima Health serves more than 934,000 members with a network of nearly 10,700 primary care doctors and specialists and 39 acute and rehab hospitals.

About Cal State Fullerton

The largest university in the CSU and the only campus in Orange County, Cal State Fullerton offers more than 100 degree programs and Division 1 athletics. Recognized as a national model for supporting student success, CSUF excels with innovative, high-impact educational practices, including faculty-student collaborative research, study abroad and competitive internships. CSUF is a top public university known for its success in supporting first-generation and underrepresented students, and preparing all students to become leaders in the global marketplace. Our vibrant and diverse campus is a primary driver of workforce and economic development in the region. Visit