BELMONT -- Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont has teamed up with a health science school in Oakland to offer students at the private Catholic institution the opportunity to pursue a nursing career.
"We've been looking to offer a nursing program the last couple of years," Notre Dame spokesman Richard Rossi said.
"But it's difficult to do," he said, because of the expense of bringing in equipment, hiring additional staff and providing students clinical experience.
But a collaboration with Samuel Merritt University will allow Notre Dame to serve prospective nursing students without building a program from scratch.
Through the partnership, officials at the schools said, students will take two years of foundation course work in the liberal arts and sciences at Notre Dame.
Then, starting in spring 2012, a certain number of Notre Dame students annually will transfer to Samuel Merritt for two years of clinical and other advanced training toward a nursing degree.
The partnership will also expose students to different communities and immerse them in varying nursing practices, scenarios and issues, officials said.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for NDNU students interested in a career in nursing," Notre Dame President Judith Greig said. Notre Dame "will give them a quality liberal arts and pre-professional academic experience as well as a grounding in community service and social justice. Samuel Merritt University will provide a fully accredited curriculum and quality faculty as well as an outstanding reputation for educating nurses and other health care professionals."
Notre Dame officials have wanted to create such a program because nursing is an in-demand, high-growth career, Rossi said.
The collaboration between the two schools seeks to help fill that need, Samuel Merritt spokeswoman Elizabeth Valente said.
Samuel Merritt already has such a partnership with three East Bay schools -- Holy Names University, Saint Mary's College and Mills College, she said.
Similarly, Notre Dame has agreements with other schools extending its course offerings in subjects such as psychology and human services.
Its partnerships with Cañada College in Redwood City and Mission College in Santa Clara allow students at those schools to finish Notre Dame degree programs without leaving their campus.
The collaborations are a way for Notre Dame to attract new students and boost tuition revenue while addressing demand in certain subjects, Rossi said.