The nationwide nursing shortage has been especially acute in California’s Central Valley. Now, Merced College is teaming up with clinical partners to double the number of slots available for students in its nursing program.

The college, which already has a longstanding partnership with Mercy Medical Center in Merced, is resuming a previous partnership with Emanuel Medical Center that will provide even more opportunities for Merced College nursing students to find the clinical training they need to become professional nurses or to advance in their careers.

The partnership with Mercy Medical Center enables the training of 30 students per semester. The partnership with Emanuel is expected to increase that number to 60 per semester, resulting in 120 graduates per 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. “We are proud of our partnership with Mercy, and our renewed partnership with Emanuel 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.

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.

The Merced College LVN to RN Pathway Program is now accepting applications for the Spring 2023 semester. The application window will close Dec. 16.

“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 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 does not discriminate, and prohibits harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, age, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Media Contact: James Leonard,, 209-681-1061