Medical college invites visitors

Growing school offers fast-track, hands-on courses

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comDecember 4, 2012 

A little-known college in Merced offers several desirable fast-track careers in the medical field in the Central Valley, where there's a shortage of medical professionals.

WestMed College, a National University System affiliate, offers programs in paramedic medicine, medical assisting, vocational nursing, nurse assistant, medical diagnostic sonography and health information technology, among others.

"Our programs are certainly considered high-demand," said Kevin Kranich, admission and placement supervisor for the college.

The college, which is growing, will have an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. today. The event will highlight three new programs the college recently added, and will help to get its name out there, Kranich said.

The college has been in Merced since 2009 and offers financial aid to those who qualify.

The programs vary in length, with its shortest being the nurse assistant program, which is six weeks long, Kranich said. One of the longest programs is the one in paramedic medicine, which runs for 18 months.

The least expensive program is the nurse assistant program for about $1,800, Kranich said. The most expensive is the medical diagnostic sonography for about $35,900.

Not much of a waiting list

Only the college's vocational nursing program typically has a waiting list, Kranich said. People are usually able to enroll in the other programs without having to wait.

The college has an average of just under 100 students every year, he said. But not all programs run at the same time. "We've been extremely successful here in the valley, meeting the needs of a handful of our local partners," Kranich said.

The college partners with some of the convalescent homes in Merced, and Castle Family Health Centers, he said.

"We have our students working out there during the program," he said. "Our programs are very hands-on. They are out there in the field a lot. In some cases, over 50 percent of the program is spent in a clinical environment."

The college has state-of-the-art classrooms, Kranich said. It has a fully- functioning nursing lab, exam room and a hospital room with simulated mannequin patients -- including one that talks.

Those who are interested in learning more about the medical programs will be able to speak with admission staff, faculty members and industry representatives during the open house.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.

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