Simpson University Nursing Students Help During Coronavirus Crisis

REDDING, Calif.—When Shasta County’s Public Health Department reached out to Simpson University’s School of Nursing for aid in responding to local coronavirus concerns, nursing students stepped up to help field calls and provide the public with information as needed.

About 10 to 12 students from the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing are working in small groups at the center, training and assisting as needed, said Rebecca Swartzman, assistant professor of nursing.

The students have been trained to answer calls from medical providers in addition to answering health-related questions from community members.

“There is no better way for future healthcare professionals to increase their knowledge than by working in real time with a public health department that is actively handling a developing situation,” said Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson Tim Mapes. “The agency is grateful to be working with the university’s nursing students and appreciates their eagerness to learn while assisting the county.”

As of March 27, the county had three confirmed coronavirus patients, one of whom passed away. The Public Health Department holds regular briefings to update the public and recently launched a new website,, designed to be a one-stop location for local information.

School of Nursing Dean Misty Smith also acknowledged the “unique opportunity” being afforded nursing students by the partnership with Public Health.

“The nursing students at the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing at Simpson University earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree that would provide the opportunity for them to be employed by governmental health agencies such as the public health department,” she said. “This opportunity meets community need and promotes student achievement of our program learning outcomes.”

The School of Nursing, which offers a four-year BSN program, as well as an RN-BSN program, is ranked among the top 10 BSN programs in California. The school has graduated more than 200 four-year BSN students since it opened in 2011. More than 175 students have graduated from the RN-BSN program.

In addition to the efforts of current nursing students, Simpson University nursing alumni are working in healthcare facilities throughout the North State and western U.S.

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Simpson University’s spring 2020 graduating cohort of nursing students

A recent “Inside Higher Education” article about healthcare students helping with the coronavirus outbreak emphasized the need for nursing schools to effectively train students in prevention protocols and infection containment.

Simpson’s School of Nursing teaches its students the importance of disease prevention and health promotion, with topics such as effective handwashing, during their semester of nursing courses. These foundational practices are enforced throughout their course of study, Smith said.

Learn more about the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing at


Simpson University, founded in 1921, moved to Redding 30 years ago and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. In addition to offering 25 majors in its traditional undergraduate program, the university has graduated more than 4,000 North State adults from its ASPIRE degree-completion program, and nearly 3,000 from its School of Education. It has a No. 8-ranked School of Nursing, a seminary, and master’s programs in counseling psychology and organizational leadership. Simpson University is recognized nationally by Colleges of DistinctionSimpson has new athletics programs in track and field, swimming and diving, women’s wrestling, and men’s volleyball, as well as a bass fishing team. The university is also working to better serve transfer students from community colleges through its commitment to Associate Degree for Transfer agreements, and it is offering new scholarships.

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