SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Nearly half a million nurses are expected to retire by the end of the year, and one local university is hoping to chip away at a growing nationwide nursing shortage by offering RN degrees to students without a background in healthcare.

With that celebratory snip, the University of the Pacific’s School of Health Science officially opened.

“We want bright new minds to think of new ways to solve current and future problems in healthcare,” Holly Evans Madison said.

The program’s state-of-the-art classrooms that are located on the Sacramento campus feature interactive mannequins that simulate patients.

Mannequins span the life cycle and teach students to treat everything from diabetes to delivery.

To be admitted, students must have a Bachelor’s degree — but it doesn’t have to be in the medical field.

“They have a Bachelor’s maybe in history, music, geography, whatever that is, but they have a passion, an interest, they want to go into a nursing profession,” said.

This year, the school accepted 40 students. Urangoo Matthews got in after earning a psychology degree.

“I love caring for people, I love learning about medicine,” Matthews said. “I just love everything about it.”

Classes begin in April. Graduates will leave in two years with a Master’s in nursing science. Starting salaries could top $100,000 a year.

COMING UP: We’re celebrating strong women in our community. Don’t miss a special presentation of “Women’s History Month: History, Hurdles, and Hope” Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on CBS13.