SMU expanding its nursing program with scholarship support

In today's uncertain economy, the health field is probably a good choice. As long as there are people, there will be a need for care providers. Samuel Merritt University has been providing registered nurses in California since the early 1900's.

To keep up with modern times, there are two undergraduate degrees available in nursing. There's an accelerated Bachelor of Science program and a more traditional way of getting the same degree.

The accelerated program is for perspective students who have a prior bachelor's degree in any subject. The student has already got their general education courses out of the way. The next step would be to take the prerequisite courses for science and foundation courses.

"So this program requires students to have a bachelor's degree. They apply and once they get accepted, they are in this program, which is 12 months and what they do is they go strictly into the health sciences courses, related to nursing," said Lily Marquez, who works in the financial aid office.

The university also offers the traditional route of earning a bachelor's degree in nursing sciences. They have four sister schools that include St. Mary's College of California, Mills College, Holy Names University, and Notre Dame de Namur University. Students have the opportunity to attend the institution of their choice to complete three years of general education courses. If they have at least a 3.0 GPA with a good academic standing, they will be guaranteed admission into the university for the next two years, during which they do all of their science foundation classes and clinical practicums. In this program, the university also accepts juniors from community colleges.

"We have very solid clinical experiences," said Marquez. "We're located in an area in which we have Alta Bates (Summit Medical Center), we have Sutter hospital, and we're close to Kaiser Hospital. So it's really convenient for students to have clinicals in different areas."

Samuel Merritt University also has a simulation lab and dummies that can breathe. Sometimes, students practice on each other and eventually deal with real patients. During the clinical experience, they're charting and getting evaluated while building relationships with the hospital staff.

"Once students prepare to take the test and they successfully pass it, then they become licensed registered nurses," said Marquez.

Samuel Merritt University is changing their institutional scholarship criteria. They look to increase their numbers with inclusive diversity. They have been able to secure a $100,000 grant through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support students.

"It's rare that students have a hard time securing funding for their tuition, but for the most part, we're able to give students a combination of federal, state and institutional dollars for their tuition and fees," said Marquez. "Our default rate is zero, so students who have borrowed federal loans, end up paying them back and not a lot of colleges and universities can say that."

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