Nursing mentor Fran Jacobs-Buster moves on


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Nursing professor Fran Jacobs-Buster retires at the end of the semester in June after 27 years as a professor and mentor in Contra Costa College’s nursing program.

By Anthony Kinney, Associate Editor

When reminiscing about her days as a student absorbing the dexterity and discipline she now instills in the aspiring nurses that journey through Contra Costa College’s nursing program, medical-surgical nursing professor Fran Jacobs-Buster is reminded how much CCC means to her.

“This place gave me my whole life,” the seasoned caregiver said in her festively decorated cubicle office. “I went to nursing school here. It gave me the tools to have a career as an RN (registered nurse) in hospitals and then gave me a job as a faculty member.”

“I’m so grateful for this college because it all came from here.”

After 27 years as an admirable professor and mentor in CCC’s nursing department, Jacobs-Buster is retiring at the end of the spring semester in June.

“It’s time for me to enjoy life,” she said describing her retirement plans. “I’m going to travel the country.”

Growing up in Oakland, Jacobs-Buster graduated from Skyline High School and attended Cal State-East Bay where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. In 1987, she enrolled in CCC’s nursing program and began the journey toward her life work as a registered nurse.

She graduated from the program in 1989.

Upon graduation, she worked at various hospitals around the Bay Area including at Kaiser hospitals and Brookside Hospital in San Pablo. Jacobs-Buster said she also spent summers working in Connecticut as a nurse for 10 years.

Although she began her part-time teaching career at CCC in 1991 as a substitute professor, she went on to further her education at UC San Francisco in 1995. From there she earned her master’s degree in science and the distinguished title of clinical nurse specialist in critical care/trauma. In 2010, she began teaching at CCC full time as a tenure-track assistant professor.

Jacobs-Buster credits the significant number of dedicated caregivers she prepared for success in the medical field as her greatest achievement while working as a professor in CCC’s nursing department. Considered by her students as tough, but thorough, she brings years of real-life hospital experience and its associated asperities to her classroom lessons.

Second-year nursing student Pam Macapagal said she heard about Jacobs-Buster’s rigor from family members who also were students of hers before she joined the program.

“She’s known for asking tough questions, but that’s because she has a high standard for her students,” Macapagal said. “She’s confident, but through her lessons she’ll make you confident.”

Macapagal, who’s currently taking Nursing 255, Intermediate Medical-Surgical and Psychiatric Nursing, with Jacobs-Buster, also said although the class is undoubtedly the hardest in the program, she considers Jacobs-Buster one of the most approachable and caring professors on campus.

“She’s hard, but that’s because she’s passionate about what she teaches,” Macapagal said.

Looking back over the 20 years of working with Jacobs-Buster in the nursing department, fellow professor Angela King-Jones described her good friend and as the consummate professor.

“She loves what she does and she’s excellent at it,” King-Jones said as her eyes filled with glee from characterizing her favorite office mate. “She can be my nurse any day.”

The two formed a stalwart relationship that grew close over the years of socializing over the shared wall of their cubicles.

King-Jones said Jacobs-Buster has earned an impressive reputation around the local medical scene for being an advocate on behalf of her patients and producing high-quality nurses through her preeminent guidance.

“We really have cohesive faculty who share the same passion for the common goal of making outstanding nurses for our future,” Jacobs-Buster said.

She said after dedicating her life to helping others and priming the next generation of devoted nurses, she’s ready to “pass the torch” to her successors — the myriad of nurses she groomed for success in the medical field.

Jacobs-Buster said the bonds she created with her students, co-workers and mentees is what she will miss the most.