Fresno Pacific University to open nursing program in Merced

Fresno Pacific University is expanding its nursing program to its Merced campus in August.

The 18-month program will allow registered nurses to obtain their Bachelor of Science in nursing, preparing them for leadership positions in the health care industry.

While the RN designation means nurses are trained for entry-level patient care, a bachelor’s degree is needed for positions in supervision, administration, research and for entry into graduate studies.

Most students, university officials explained, transfer from community colleges where they complete an RN program. Those looking to advance in the field seek a bachelor’s degree.

According to school officials, Fresno Pacific’s RN to bachelor’s degree program has already graduated more than 100 nurses from its north Fresno and Visalia locations since 2009.

In Merced, classes will meet at Fresno Pacific’s campus at 3379 G St., building P.

Jillian Coppler, director of enrollment marketing at Fresno Pacific, said the courses will be organized in cohorts of 12 to 20 students. Small groups, according to Coppler, allows students to get more one-on-one time with their professors.

Fresno Pacific’s nursing program is also one of the few in Merced that offers face-to-face instruction rather than online, she said.

Besides Merced, Fresno Pacific also has campuses in Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield. The Merced campus opened in 2011.

Brice Yocum, Fresno Pacific’s executive director of regional campuses, said that over the years university officials have explored program that would be a good fit for the Merced community and nursing was one of them.

“Just in the past two years, we’ve seen a tremendous growth in that (Merced) campus,” Yocum said. “It was time to step up to the next level.”

Although the Valley is known to struggle with attracting health care providers, nursing continues to see a lot of employment growth, Yocum said.

According to officials, campus locations and courses offered are based on degree attainment. A bachelor’s degree is an economic indicator, Coppler explained, and areas where degree attainments are low benefit the most from the RN to bachelor’s degree program.

The school’s bachelor’s degree program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

The deadline to sign up for the first cohort is Aug. 1. Adults interested in learning more about the program can contact the Merced campus at (209) 354-5806.

Yocum explained that campus representatives meet with prospective students to ensure all prerequisites are in place. He advises that people call to make appointments as soon as possible.

More information can be found at

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or