Bilingual Nursing Fellows Program

South Mountain Community College
Academic Level
Issue Area
Academic Program
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Bilingual /ESL,


The mission of the Bilingual Nursing Fellows Program (BNFP) is to graduate bilingual nurses to serve Arizona patients who speak only Spanish.

Program Description

South Mountain Community College (SMCC), in partnership with Gateway Community College (GWCC) and Banner Health, Arizona’s largest health services provider, created BNFP in 2002 in response to the medical community’s critical need for bilingual Registered Nurses. BNFP combines an innovative nursing curriculum with a system of support services to allow students to stay in their cohort by taking prerequisite nursing courses and requisite Registered Nurse (RN) courses simultaneously. The sequence of courses allows for the individual student to earn a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate, become eligible as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and then earn licensure as an RN within a two to three-year period. These stages of licensure permit students who cannot immediately move to the next sequence or level to qualify for employment as a CNA or as an LPN in a local hospital. At the completion of all nursing requisites and course sequences, BNFP students graduate with an RN degree in 24 to 32 months.


BNFP students persist at a 95% rate from the start to the end of the semester and at an 89% rate from the end of the semester to the next semester.

When compared to the general student population taking the same classes, BNFP students completed their course at a 95% rate compared to 61% rate for non-BNFP students in English, Math, Biology and Chemistry classes.

In Spring 2003, the first cohort, or “pilot,” of 27 students started classes and finished in fall 2006. From this cohort, the program graduated 19 RNs, four LPNs, and three CNAs. To date, 66 students have earned RN degrees, 133 completed LPN requirements, and 155 finished their CNA programs. 

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