Did you know that Sacramento is the oldest incorporated city in California, dating back to 1849 when citizens adopted a charter? The State Legislature moved here in 1854, and in 1879 Sacramento was named the permanent State Capital.
Affectionately known as the ‘River City’, Sacramento is home to our largest Carrington College California campus. We sat down with Sue Smith, Campus Executive Director II, who also happens to be one of Carrington’s longest serving employees.
“I actually started with Carrington as a Dental Assisting Instructor, I was a Program Director for many years, then the Dean of Academic Affairs, and now I’m the Executive Director. I’ve been here 32 years, over half my life. I started when I was 10! I still love coming to work every day – we’re changing students’ lives and preparing them for a better future!”
The student body is served by 85 full-time and part-time faculty and staff members, plus another 30 adjunct faculty members who supervise our students at hospitals and clinical sites, and in our dental hygiene clinic.
“Sacramento is the largest Carrington College California campus. We’ve been at this location since 1995. I am very proud that we have an authentic culture of feeling like family here; many of our colleagues have been with us for a long time and it’s a real close-knit atmosphere. It’s a happy place to work and to study. We have about 50,000 square feet over three different buildings on several acres. We are often referred to as the Mother Ship! Our student population usually is between 800 and 920 students.”
The Sacramento campus offers students a choice of 11 health care programs. The largest program by enrollment is Veterinary Technology, closely followed by Dental Assisting, Medical Assisting and Vocational Nursing.
The Sacramento campus has something unique that most of the other campuses don’t have; the Vocational Nursing & Dental Assisting Associate degree programs with a science emphasis. Students trying to receive their prerequisites to enter some of our higher programs requested the creation of the VND&DAD programs. Students complained that they could not obtain the classes they needed at the community college and sometimes were on waiting lists for long periods of time as Sue explains.
“These programs are open only to dental assisting and vocational nursing graduates, and cover the pre-requisites needed for the Registered Nursing & Dental Hygiene degree programs at Carrington College California. We are very happy to be able to help these students achieve their ultimate goals of becoming registered nurses or dental hygienists – we currently have about 170 students enrolled.
In addition to a medical library and a computer lab, Sacramento students enjoy putting their skills into practice in industry-standard clinical laboratories, using current technology and equipment.
“Our facilities are just gorgeous – I could go on and on! We have a beautiful SimLink Lab for our Nursing Department – we offer both Registered Nursing and Vocational Nursing programs here. It’s a four bed simulation lab with monitors and other equipment you’d expect to find in a normal hospital room. There is another room where students sit and watch their peers working on simulation manikins via a large screen monitor. The instructor controls four computers and the manikins, prompting their responses in a third room.
“We have a beautiful dental hygiene wing with wonderful facilities; it has 25 operatories. Students have their own operatory and their own instruments. It’s spotless, an exact replica of a dental office. We reach out to the community and offer complementary dental hygiene services. The students perform dental cleanings, X-rays, dental sealants, as well as preventive care such as tooth-brushing and flossing techniques. We have dentists on staff to supervise their work. The students do an excellent job!
I would say it’s the best kept secret in Sacramento. The clinic is staffed with bilingual receptionists and many staff members who are fluent in Spanish. We see up to 50 patients a day in the dental hygiene clinic.”
The campus also has two identical dental assisting labs, with a total of eight operatories including X-ray and sterilization facilities. While not ‘open to the public’ like the dental hygiene clinic, students bring their family or friends in, and sometimes members of staff volunteer – there is never a shortage of ‘willing’ patients.
“Our Veterinary Technology program has a huge surgery lab, large enough to treat a horse. We have two veterinarians on staff. I actually got to witness a “C” section and just today they performed surgery on one of our employee’s dogs; they were removing a mass which they think is cancer.”
The campus has easy access for students who need to take public transportation – it’s on the bus route and the light rail is just across the street. Located just off Highway 50, access is also great for students who drive in from further afield, as many of them do.
“Our Dental Hygiene program is very popular, and there aren’t many dental hygiene programs in our area. I do have students who commute hours for that program; some students have even paired up to get an apartment nearby. The Registered Nursing program is an LVN to RN Bridge program; there are very few in the state of California, so many students are prepared to travel a distance every day for that program.”
The campus has a number of affiliation agreements with doctors and with clinics, and the school is very well known in the local community.
“Our students do many community service activities. Massage therapy students provide chair massages at a variety of locations and events – the police department, even the IRS office! Dental hygiene students teach brushing techniques at homeless shelters, elder care facilities, the children’s home, and many more. Our veterinary technology students volunteer with Sacramento County Animal Care. Our staff and students do so much in the community; it’s hard really to include them all.”
After 32 years at the school, Sue has seen many things change, but her commitment and that of her staff to student success remains at the forefront of everything they do at the campus.
“For many of our programs, graduates have to go on to take State Board exams before they can be licensed. One of the things I’m most proud of is that our students typically do very well in their State Board exams*. I have to say our passing rate scores are typically excellent.
We’ve just had a 100% State Board pass rate for our latest Dental Hygiene program class; the same for our recent RN graduates, and our Vocational Nursing program graduates just had a 92% pass rate. Our students who are taking these very difficult state exams are passing with flying colors. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re here for and results like that make us all very proud. That’s why, after 32 years, I still look forward to coming to work in the morning.”
If you have friends or family in the Sacramento area that would benefit from learning more about our campus, share this blog post with them or have them visit carrington.edu/schools/sacramento-california.
* Carrington College California prepares students to take appropriate certification and licensure exams related to their individual majors. The College does not guarantee graduates will successfully pass these exams or be certified or licensed as a result of completing the program.