Dr. Kimberly Perris | Photo courtesy HSU

Press release from Humboldt State University:

Humboldt State University achieved another milestone by hiring Dr. Kimberly Perris as the new director to lead the RN-to-BSN nursing program, which plans to enroll its first class of students as soon as Fall 2020.

Perris has a long history with HSU, having worked as a nurse at the Student Health Center from 2004-2016. She currently serves as the Population Health Nursing Director for the Humboldt Independent Practice Association (IPA), and will begin at HSU this fall.

“I spent a big portion of my career at HSU. Some of my very fondest memories are of my time spent serving those students,” she says. “It was there that I saw an opportunity for nurses to fill a gap in access to care.” 

The passing of the Affordable Care Act presented challenges for serving newly insured patients. The nursing program at HSU is the perfect opportunity to introduce nurses to new and innovative roles that will expand access to care and address the current needs of our population. “I want to build community partnerships that support the success of the program, benefits the campus community and that provides students with a unique opportunity [to] achieve their professional aspirations and address the needs of the larger community,” she says.

Perris’ hiring culminates a national search for the leader of HSU’s RN-to-BSN nursing program, re-launched thanks to a $2 million grant from St. Joseph Health.

In developing the program, HSU has been working closely with College of the Redwoods as well State Senator Mike McGuire and local healthcare leaders, who say it is one of their top priorities.

“The North Coast has a severe nursing shortage that impacts the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of our neighbors. The hiring of Ms. Perris is a huge step forward to get this desperately needed program up, running and graduating highly skilled nurses. We look forward to working with her and the entire HSU team in the months to come, getting ready to kickstart the program in 2020,” says State Senator Mike McGuire.

The program is designed to allow registered nurses who already have an associate’s degree to complete their bachelor’s degree in nursing locally. The additional education will enable nurses to meet new hiring educational requirements some hospitals have implemented which require a BSN degree, will provide nurses with a community health perspective, and will allow them to prepare for roles in leadership or advanced clinical training such as nurse practitioners.

The nursing director is a faculty position, with broad responsibility for overseeing continued development of the program, raising the necessary private funding, working with partners in the community, recruiting faculty, and launching the program.

Perris earned her Associate of Science in Nursing from Riverside Community College in 1991, and has worked as a nurse locally since 1993. From 2004-2016, she worked as a nurse in HSU’s Student Health Center. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership from the University of San Francisco in 2015 and 2018.

Perris’ role at IPA involved the launch of a primary care practice and a School-Based Health Center, which emphasized her health care goals of promoting better health, better access to health care, and lower health care costs.

“I feel fortunate having been in this community, I have had many mentors and look forward to giving back” she says. “Part of the education I hope to convey to nurses is to identify challenges and to network with colleagues who share similar desires to improve health care across the spectrum. I hope to bridge relationships with local health care leaders and to elevate and redefine the nursing profession, with more fulfilling and autonomous roles in the community.”

The program will be housed within HSU’s Department of Kinesiology and Recreation Administration, which Perris is excited about. “Kinesiology has been such a welcoming group already. This partnership aligns with an interdisciplinary model in health care—no one of us can do it alone. I’m looking forward to working Kinesiology and other departments to develop the program.”

The nursing program will be dependent on significant financial support, and HSU is currently seeking charitable commitments to create an endowment. If you have questions about the Nursing program you can contact Connie Stewart ces54@humboldt.edu 707-826-3402 who has been leading the fundraising effort for HSU.