By Katrina Cameron Contra Costa Times
Posted: 10/03/2014 03:12:26 PM PDT
PITTSBURG -- After a year-long hiatus, the Licensed Vocational Nurse program at Los Medanos College will make its comeback in January.
The college's nursing department is accepting applications for the three-semester program until Oct. 17, said program director Sharon Goldfarb, a registered nurse. The program has 24 spots available, and students are selected through a lottery drawing.
The total estimated program cost is $2,500, Goldfarb said. Classes begin Jan. 12, and students must have a high school degree and complete six prerequisite college classes, available at Los Medanos College, before applying.
The average salary for LVNs in California is $47,000 per year, she said. Employment of LVN is expected to grow 21 percent by 2018 in anticipation of the aging baby boomers.
Staffing issues caused the program to take a year-long break, Goldfarb said. Nurses typically make more money in the field than in the classroom, which can make recruiting difficult.
"Not just any nurse can come in and teach," she said. "Some people have critical experience, and finding someone with the right credentials and the right heart can be challenging."
Goldfarb joined the LVN staff this fall, she said. She previously taught at Columbia University in New York, New York University, Hunter University and San Leandro College.
Before delving into teaching, Goldfarb did most of her work in homeless primary care in Harlem and Manhattan, New York.
She voluntarily cared for people injured in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and Hurricane Katrina.
"You get sort of bit my the bug -- I can help people in a bad situation," Goldfarb said. "Every time there's a car accident, I just get over and help."
She hopes the LVN program will allow her students to acquire the same admiration for caring.
"What I say to my students when I start with them is: 'I have to train you to be the best nurses that you can be,'" Goldfarb said.
Esper Hagberg, a former LVN student who graduated in 2010, is currently a registered nurse and in the midst of acquiring her bachelor's degree. She now works at Kaiser Permanente in Antioch and Aspen Surgery in Walnut Creek.
Hagberg said the LVN program gave her the encouragement and confidence to go beyond her LVN degree and strive to attain her bachelor's and master's degrees.
"The faculty was wonderful; they had big dreams for us," she said. "They trained us with the big picture in mind, and they were encouraging us to pursue a higher education."
Hagberg applied for the LVN program after four attempts to get into the impacted registered nurse program, which also selects students on a lottery system, she said. She was ecstatic when she discovered that the LVN program returned because it provides affordable opportunities for future nurses.
"I'm really glad that it's back because it's going to help a lot of people like me," Hagberg said. "A lot of us are working students, so I think it's really important to have that option at the community college."
For more information on the LVN program at Los Medanos College, visit www.losmedanos.edu/nursing/vn.asp or call 925-473-7756.