NEW YORK NURSE: May 2009
Among the hundreds of nursing students and faculty at Lobby Day, the group from the State University of New York at New Paltz were particularly motivated to talk to their legislators.
Days before, SUNY New Paltz announced that it was closing its RN-to-BSN program due to budget constraints. School officials claimed that they had to cut $6 million from their budget because of reduced funding from the state. Students and former students objected, pointing out that it was the only affordable program of its kind in the area.
“I wouldn’t have my degree if it wasn’t for that program,” said Jan Viola, retired from Vassar Brothers Medical Center and former chair of the NYSNA Council on Legislation. “It’s going to make it very difficult for nurses in the lower Hudson Valley to advance their education.”
On May 7, NYSNA Deputy Executive Director Deborah Elliott spoke at a forum in New Paltz, expressing the Nurses Association’s view that the program should not be closed. She cited the need to build the nursing workforce and the recognized shortage of nursing faculty.
“An advanced degree is required for nursing faculty and strict mandates on faculty-to-student ratios must be followed,” Elliott said. “RN-to-BSN programs afford practicing RNs the opportunity to continue their education in an environment that meets their professional needs. These programs are gateways to advanced degrees in nursing and are critical to feeding the faculty pipeline and ensure the future of the nursing profession.”
Elliott also stressed the importance of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the current healthcare delivery system. “Supply and demand projections over the next several decades focus not only on the need for more nurses, but also on the increasing need for nurses with bachelor’s and advanced degrees.”
Although nursing faculty, students, and nursing organizations have strongly opposed the closure, the university has stood by its decision to stop accepting students into the nursing program, effective immediately.