Merced College, Emanuel Medical Center Partner to Address Nursing Shortage

Nov 4, 2022

MERCED, Calif. — The nationwide nursing shortage has been especially acute in California’s Central Valley, and Merced College is teaming up with Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock to educate and train more nurses to serve the region.

Now that hospitals have the tools necessary to effectively control COVID-19 within our communities, the partnership between Merced College and Emanuel Medical Center can safely resume. The partnership will provide additional opportunities for Merced College nursing students to find the clinical training they need to become professional nurses or to advance in their careers. As a result, the college will be able to enroll more students in its nursing programs each year.

“As a community college, our success, and that of our students, requires strong partnerships with businesses, organizations and health care providers to create new opportunities for students and address community needs,” Merced College President Chris Vitelli said. “Our renewed partnership with Emanuel Medical Center will benefit our students, our hospitals, and all local residents who are in need of care.”

Merced College provides entry points for three levels of nursing students: Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA), Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN), and Registered Nurses (RN). Each level has its own governing body and scope of practice from basic bedside nursing care to complex responsibilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic made it even more difficult to train nursing students, with hospitals trying to limit exposure to the virus among their staff and students alike. Undaunted, Merced College nursing faculty continued to provide both classroom and clinical experiences for students, based on their collaborative efforts with all of the college’s clinical partners in the community.

Both Merced College and Emanuel Medical Center recognize the importance of recruiting and growing new nurses from within the region.

“Training nurses locally and then hiring them to stay in the area is so important for healthcare in Turlock and our surrounding communities,” said Kathy Van Meter, Chief Nursing Officer at Emanuel Medical Center. “To do so, it is essential that we have a long-term strategy in place that includes supporting nursing students from the beginning of their scholastic journey through graduation, and then as a new nurse. Emanuel’s collaboration with Merced College is another example of our commitment to making sure our patients receive the high-quality, compassionate care they deserve.”

Merced College typically graduates around 60 nursing students per year, but partnerships with local hospitals to give them the clinical training required for nursing certifications and licenses will help increase that number. A partnership with Mercy Medical Center in Merced enables the training of 30 students per semester, and the partnership with Emanuel is expected to increase that number to 60 per semester, resulting in 120 graduates per year.

This increase in the annual number of RN graduates will be accomplished through a gradual increase in student intake starting in Spring 2023. To begin this expansion, the college is expecting to add 30 seats for current LVNs to enter the LVN to RN bridge program next year, pending approval by the California Board of Registered Nursing.

“We are so grateful to our hospital partners for the opportunities they provide to our students,” said Merced College Registered Nursing Director Lauren Marson. “When we are all aligned and working toward the common goal of improving health care in our region, there is nothing we cannot accomplish together.”

The Merced College LVN to RN Pathway Program is now accepting applications for the Spring 2023 semester. The application window will close Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 4 p.m.

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