Chancellor Matthew Goldstein announced today that The City University of New York will add 30 full-time faculty to its nursing programs this year, to enable CUNY colleges to graduate more nurses and help address the serious nursing shortage in New York City.
An increase in nursing faculty was one of the key recommendations of a blue-ribbon CUNY Nursing Task Force appointed by the Chancellor to explore how the University could lead efforts to alleviate the City’s nursing shortage. The 11-member panel of leading health care professionals, chaired by Dr. Antonio Perez, President of Borough of Manhattan Community College, submitted its final report, Closing the Nursing Gap, to the Chancellor last week, which was released today. The Nursing Task Force Report and Executive Summary is available on the University website, cuny.edu/nursing.
Within the past two years, the Task Force found, several CUNY nursing programs have had to limit enrollments in clinical courses due to faculty shortages. Noting that the problem is national, the report recommended that CUNY provide sufficient incentives to attract new quality faculty, and reinstitute course work to prepare more nurse educators.
“CUNY is already by far the leading provider of new registered nurses in New York,” Goldstein noted. “We intend to expand our nursing programs while improving their quality, using the Task Force’s report as our blueprint.” The new nursing faculty lines will be hired utilizing a combination of vacant positions and additional state support.
The Greater New York Hospital Association in April 2002 reported vacancy rates of almost 8 percent in direct patient care RN positions and 10.5 percent for Licensed Practical Nurses in New York area hospitals. Shortfalls were most acute for specialty nurses in emergency, perioperative and intensive care areas. New York regional continuing care facilities in 2002 reported vacancy rates of 12.4 percent for staff RNs, 15.1 percent for LPNs and 8.3 percent for nurse managers.
The shortages, the report found, are due to an increasing demand for health care services at a time when fewer qualified students are choosing to enter the nursing profession. While CUNY has no dearth of nursing hopefuls, many lack the math, science and critical thinking preparation to succeed in nursing. So in addition to expanding their capacity, CUNY’s 12 nursing programs need to attract better prepared students, the report said.
“The perception of nursing among many students is out of touch with today’s reality,” said Task Force Chairman Perez. “Nursing offers incredible opportunities for exercising leadership, independent judgment, and analytical skills. BMCC students graduating with an associate degree in nursing are walking into $55,000 a year jobs. And senior and specialty nurses earn upwards of $100,000. We need to get the word out.”
The report recommended multiple ways to attract more qualified students into nursing and to help prepare those students who want to enter nursing but lack the necessary skills, to obtain those skills so they can succeed.
Chancellor Goldstein stated that CUNY will work with the City Board of Education through the College Now program to improve science and math instruction for high school students so more students could qualify to enter CUNY nursing programs. This will start this summer, when 670 high school students will participate in math, science and technology institutes offered through College Now at six CUNY colleges.
The Borough of Manhattan Community College in Spring 2002 piloted a Nursing Now initiative aimed at giving high school juniors and seniors with an interest in nursing stronger preparation, an exposure to nursing in a hospital setting, and offering them the opportunity to begin taking college-level courses that are pre-requisites to nursing.
Adults seeking a new career offer another large pool of potential nursing candidates, the report said, and it offered multiple recommendations for reaching this market.
Chancellor Goldstein asked CUNY’s nursing departments to expand the number of evening, weekend, and one-day course sequences to accommodate the needs of working students, and to develop online options in appropriate non-clinical courses. The Task Force suggested CUNY should offer greater flexibility in course scheduling for adult students, most of whom work.
The report noted that returning adult students often need special help to complete basic skills requirements and nursing pre-requisites to qualify for admission into clinical nursing programs. CUNY is working with the 1199 Service Employees International Union, the Association of Voluntary Hospitals and the Health and Hospitals Corporation on programs to accommodate health care workers seeking to enter nursing.
New CUNY/1199 Partnership
Chancellor Goldstein announced that this fall, “CUNY on the Concourse” will open in the Bronx and enroll about 500 members of 1199 in pre-nursing courses and in a wide array of continuing professional education courses for licensed nurses. If this model proves successful in qualifying new workers for nursing, it could be replicated in other boroughs, he said.
While noting that men and Hispanics remain vastly under-represented in nursing, and should be targeted for recruitment, the Task Force found that CUNY’s nursing graduates are among the most diverse ethnically and racially in the nation. While only 13 percent of nurses nationally are from minority groups, 70 percent of CUNY nursing graduates identify themselves as minorities. At least 40 percent also speak a second language — critical attributes for nurses serving one of the most diverse cities in the world.
The 11 members of the Task Force represent public and private hospitals, visiting care nurse organizations, professional nursing organizations and colleges of nursing. They were assisted in their inquiry by a broad spectrum of city health care providers and nursing professionals who agreed to serve as resource members to the Task Force.