Merced school offers low-tuition path to medical careers

A new school in Merced wants to help students learn medical skills without paying a huge tuition.

Horisons School is a private, nonprofit school that teaches people to become licensed vocational nurses, medical assistants, dental assistants, phlebotomy technicians and electrocardiagraph technicians.

Sandy Haar, chief executive officer, said the school would be open by August for some services.

The school is connected with the rural health clinics run by Horisons, which are located in Livingston, Los Banos and Gustine. “Our money comes from both state and federal funds,” Haar said.

The school is working with Worknet of Merced County and CalWorks to get tuitions paid for students. “There are all kinds of ways to get tuitions paid for,” Haar said. “Some people can get 100 percent of their tuition paid, if they qualify.”

Although the school isn’t opening until August, Students have already signed up, Haar said. “We’ve got about 60 people so far.”

The students will receive classroom and clinical training. The school is 7,000 square feet, and students will be in the classroom for eight hours a day. When they go into clinics or doctors’ offices, they will work eight-hour days. Some of the courses are for 12 months and some are for six months.

Haar said the school hopes to help people learn a profession, especially those whose need is greatest.

“We’re the first one here for the poor,” Haar said. “Merced College’s waiting list for their LVN program is three years.”

Haar said all students who sign up for classes are required to have either a high school diploma or a general education diploma. “People can walk in right out of high school,” Haar said.

The school is going through final accreditation now, Haar said: “We want people to know we’re here, and we want to let them know there’s education here for the poor.”

Horisons will hold a fund-raiser Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the school, 1743 Ashby Road in Merced. The cost is $3 for adults; children get in free. There will be bounce houses, face-painting and other children’s activities, plus tours of the school. There will be counselors to talk to potential students about the school. Proceeds will go to pay for computers for the school.

For more information, call (209) 201-2099.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or creiter@mercedsun-star.com.