The medical center's nurse training program was started in 1916. Students train for three years.

Riverside's nurse training program is one of only nine programs included in the first national study on nursing education in 30 years.

Since Tuesday, researchers from the Carnegie Foundation, a nonprofit teaching organization in California, have been attending classes, interviewing teachers and observing nursing students in the hospital.

Patricia Benner, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco who wrote a popular book for nurse education, "From Nursing to Power," was part of the research team. Team members wrapped up their visit Thursday.

Benner said people underestimate how much nursing education has had to change.

"People still think of nursing as a warm, fuzzy, nice job for women," she said. "There's huge technical competency that nurses have."

The schools' accrediting agency, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, recommended Riverside for the project.

The foundation is also conducting research in medical, legal, clergy and engineering education.

They have found that hands-on experience for professional students is as important as work in classrooms, but less common.

A high school diploma is required for Riverside's program, where students train for three years. Since 1916, when the program was established, 2,100 have graduated. This year, 161 students are enrolled; most are women.

Published: June 17, 2005