Zachary Simpson stands outside the V building, which houses the nursing program, on the City College campus, August 26, 2023. Photo courtesy of Madeleine Outlaw
Zachary Simpson stands outside the V building, which houses the nursing program, on the City College campus, August 26, 2023. Photo courtesy of Madeleine Outlaw

City College student creates his own aesthetic in No. 3 rated nursing program

Reality TV created an interest that Zachary Simpson is turning into a career

Growing up, Zachary Simpson was drawn to online media and TV shows about plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. 

“Reality TV shows like the Kardashians, … plastic surgery is a very common thing in those shows, so I feel like maybe those types of TV shows kind of opened me up to this world of plastic surgery,” Simpson said. “It was something I’ve always kind of looked into but didn’t really know I could do.”

As he and his cohort near completion of their pandemic-delayed studies in San Diego City College’s nursing program in December, Simpson said he has found his lane in the practice of aesthetic and cosmetic nursing. 

“Once I found the plastic surgery route of nursing and aesthetic nursing, it sparked my eye,” Simpson said. “That’s when I made my decision, ‘Oh, I’m going to do this.’”

Aesthetic/cosmetic nurses help plastic surgeons and dermatologists provide cosmetic procedures. “These healthcare procedures — whether invasive or non-invasive — help improve their patient’s appearance,” according to the website

When Simpson finished high school in 2018, he didn’t quite know what direction to go in. 

The price point of City College was definitely a plus compared to nearby campuses, so he enrolled and started working on his general education requirements.

Then he started to hear about nursing.

“I just heard a lot of people taking nursing, and how much you could do with nursing, like how many different ventures you can go into,” Simpson said. “And so I found a lane. I enjoyed that area, and I knew it was something more secure.”

Nursing should continue to be a secure profession for Simpson and his fellow students. New nurses are crucial to addressing California’s nursing shortage, one of the worst in the U.S.,  according to the website

Additionally, as notes, California’s stringent nurse-to-patient ratio legislation not only enhances patient care outcomes, but also results in California having the highest average registered nurse salary in the United States, $122,838. 

City College is also proving to be an institution preparing students at the highest level. It was recently named the No. 3 nursing program in the nation by RNCareers.

The ranking was due to the high success rates of students completing required licensing exams. Since 2018, the City College nursing program has had a passing rate of 98% or higher on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing, compared to a mid-80% passing rate nationally.

In 2020, 89% of students responding to a survey indicated they had been employed as a nurse within 6 months of program completion. 

“In a state experiencing one of the worst nursing shortages in the country, attracting a new generation of qualified nurses is crucial to addressing the issue,” according to RNCareers. “This is one reason why nurses are treated well in California.”

As graduation approaches, Simpson and his classmates are finishing their studies and doing clinical rotations at different hospitals and offices in San Diego.

He will then be taking the NCLEX-RN to get his license, looking for a job, and getting additional training to create his own aesthetic in nursing. 

“I originally came there because I heard how supportive they are for their students … trying to get them through,” Simpson said. “And that’s definitely something I’ve experienced. And they do really try to push you hard in the program, but clearly, it’s worth it.”

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