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SUNY Poly and Jefferson Community College work together to fight nursing shortage

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A state effort to get more nurses into the workforce is creating new opportunities for two local colleges.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica and Jefferson Community College in Watertown are working together to create a nursing education circle.

The goal is to help students get their RN degrees at JCC, send them to SUNY Poly to receive BSN or MSN degrees, then retain them to either work at local healthcare facilities or to teach nursing.

Maryrose Eannace, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs at JCC, said the $250,000 state grant will help the schools achieve that goal.

"It's a circular plan that really aids both institutions in furthering the success of students in their full career trajectory,” said Eannace.

The grant will allow JCC to add 24 more students, increase lab space, and use SUNY Poly’s faculty to keep students working toward advanced degrees.

Joanne Joseph, the Interim Dean of the College of Health Sciences at SUNY Poly, said the intercollegiate ties are crucial in such a competitive market.

"Our faculty will be supporting their faculty. Their faculty will be supporting our faculty, and I think that's critical in attracting new faculty members," said Joseph.

JCC Nurse Administrator Marie Hess said she’s hopeful the connections students make at local healthcare systems will encourage more nursing graduates to stay in the area.

"They get an opportunity to become part of the facility, part of the health care systems, and very often will seek employment there,” said Hess.

The money will also fund a success coach to help students at both schools persevere through the challenging nursing curriculum and make it to graduation.

“Many, many students struggle with stress management, and we think that having the career coach, success coach, working with these students will help to ease that problem,” said Eannace.

The grant is part of a $3.2 million plan statewide to create 1500 more nursing student spots at 17 campuses.