Sierra nursing students take classroom lessons into the field

By: Susan Belknap, Special to The Placer Herald
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For those who think field trips are just for elementary school children, they haven’t met the nursing students at Sierra College. This current semester there’s a class of eight women and one man who have been not only studying in class a few days a week, but also have been traveling throughout Placer County visiting a variety of hospitals, inpatient rehabilitative centers and doctor offices in order to get on-the-job training in all areas of the medical profession. The class recently completed a four-week rotation at HorizonWest-Sierra Hills Care Center in Roseville where the group learned how to care for those patients who require inpatient rehabilitative therapy as well as those residents receiving long-term skilled nursing care. “We’ve been able to assist the residents with dressing, transferring them in and out of their beds and administering their medications,” said Simida Sfrengeu, who is a Roseville resident. Sfrengeu said the flexibility of hours is what inspired her to participate in Sierra’s program to become a registered nurse. “With family and work, becoming an RN will fit with my schedule,” Sfrengeu said. For student Steve Fernandez of Roseville, the professional growth he said he’s experiencing with the Sierra College program is what has made it worthwhile for him. Fernandez said he is looking forward to receiving the title of registered nurse after his name. Fernandez has already completed the requirements to be a licensed vocational nurse and said it’s the upward mobility being an RN that convinced him to continue his nursing education at Sierra College. Pam Tijerina, who is also a Roseville resident, said the types of duties an RN can perform are what attracted her to nursing school. “With an RN designation, we can provide more care,” Tijerina said. “My heart is into rehabilitation and diets of patients so being an RN is where I want to go.” Larry Meyer, executive director of Sierra Hills, said he has been pleased with the relationship between the Roseville facility and Sierra College. “The students here last week were on their third rotation so they had some experience being out in the field,” Meyer said. “It’s been great to have their fresh faces around. These are students who definitely have a calling for serving others. They have all been a positive influence and the residents enjoy having them here.” But it’s not just the residents who have benefited from the college program. Rocklin resident and student Deseret Olbrei said she has appreciated her time at Sierra Hills because she was able to concentrate her four weeks with just a few patients. “I really got to know them and what they needed,” Olbrei said. “I feel like we all made the lives of these residents more meaningful.” Sierra Hills is part of HorizonWest Healthcare, Inc., one of the Sacramento region’s largest provider of inpatient rehabilitation and skilled nursing services. For more information about Sierra Hills, call Meyer at 782-7007 or visit