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New nursing program to launch in Fresno. Who will benefit?

Kaiser Permanente will partner with Samuel Merritt University to offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in Fresno beginning in January.
Kaiser Permanente will partner with Samuel Merritt University to offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in Fresno beginning in January. Photo courtesy of Kaiser Permanente Northern California

A new nursing program is set to start in Fresno in January for working nurses hoping to sharpen their skills.

Kaiser Permanente will partner with Samuel Merritt University to offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, the hospital announced this week. The private university focuses on health sciences.

Karen Strauman, chief nursing executive at Kaiser Permanente Fresno, said several nurses were already traveling to the Bay Area to take part in a similar program. Others were interested in enrolling in the program, but travel was a barrier for them.

“This now allows them to stay in their community, and to get their education,” she said during an interview. “We also want to make our community a better place.”

This program follows the 2015 launch of Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Nurse Scholars Academy, where nurses can earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees.

The first cohort will consist of 20 nurses. Thus far, four Kaiser Permanente nurses have been accepted into the program, while the eligibility for others at the hospital, as well as nurses at other health facilities in Fresno, is still pending, Strauman said.

Many of the nurses applying for the program were trained years ago, Strauman said.

The program consists of a weekly in-person class, online coursework and clinical rotations in health settings throughout the community. Nurses will learn about evidence-based care by broadening their community health training and improving their communication skills, according to the news release.

Wendy Gospodnetich, director of Clinical Education Practice and Informatics at Kaiser Permanente Fresno, said health care is evolving rapidly.

“They’ll be in a position of bringing evidence-based care to the bedside,” she said, adding it will ensure patients are receiving the best quality care.

The deadline to apply for the program is Nov. 1. The deadline for the 2020 fall term is July 2020. Tuition for the five-semester program is $27,390, according to the university.

Strauman said Kaiser Permanente nurses should only have to pay 5 to 10% out-of-pocket for total tuition.

Paulina Van, professor at Samuel Merritt University School of Nursing, said past graduates have been able to earn promotions within Kaiser and others have changed their specialties.

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