NEW YORK NURSE: June 2008
by Randi Hoffman
On a cold, rainy morning in May, C. Alicia Georges sits in a second-floor college classroom on Lehman College’s leafy, Bronx campus, while a small group of students give their final presentations.
The students are registered nurses from Korea who are matriculated in the RN-BSN completion program at Lehman. Georges is upbeat and respectful, urging the young women to participate in the discussion and offer their opinions. Georges, an associate professor and the chair of the Department of Nursing at Lehman, created this program for Korean nurses.
In this “Trends and Issues” class, Helen Lee and Jin Sun are giving a PowerPoint presentation on “Medicaid Expenditures for Undocumented Immigrants.” The screen displays facts and figures about language and cultural barriers facing illegal immigrants who cannot afford health care. They examine issues surrounding the U.S. healthcare system, where insurance is mostly provided by employers.
Toward the end of the talk, the students examine each presidential candidate’s positions on universal health care and take opposing sides on the issue. Lee says Chinese immigrants in Korea are not given free health care. Sun counters that it is important to provide everyone with the care they require. Most of the students do not volunteer their opinions.
After the three-hour class, Georges is off to a faculty meeting, followed by an interview with a candidate for a post-doctoral position. That afternoon she’ll meet with the chief college lab technician and prepare a five-year-interim report for the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
With whatever time she has left over, Georges will grade papers, work on class assessments, and meet with individual students during specified office hours. That evening she will attend an event sponsored by the Women’s Study Program at Lehman.
“The nurses in service tend to forget what we do in academia,” said Georges. In addition to her class at Lehman, she teaches doctoral students at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan.
As chair of Lehman’s nursing department, Georges also has “big picture” responsibilities. “I’m trying to build big-time relationships with the hospitals that are beneficial to our program,” she says. “Bronx Lebanon Medical Center has created a good environment for us, but we need the others to join.”
“I’m all for nurses being required to achieve the baccalaureate degree,” she continues. “There is a need for highly educated nurses to take care of the most vulnerable in our population.”
“My godmother was one of the most well-known nurse-midwives in the Virgin Islands, where I come from,” explains Georges. “Nurses hold quite a high stature there.”
Georges received her own bachelor’s degree at Seton Hall University and then worked as a community nurse for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, becoming a district director in 1975. She earned a master’s degree in community health nursing at New York University. “That’s when I was recruited to teach at Lehman College and at Fordham Hospital in the Bronx, which is now closed.”
Georges went on to earn her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Vermont.
During her stellar career, Georges has served on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Advisory Council on Nursing Education and Practice and as president of the National Black Nurses Foundation. Her alma mater, Seton Hall University, honored her with the 2005 Margaret C. Haley Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Georges has been a NYSNA member for 40 years even though “it is not my bargaining unit.” She is a member of the Professional Staff Congress, which represents CUNY teachers and staff.