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City Tech to Help Lessen Brooklyn’s Nursing Shortage

From left to right, City Tech Professors Egues, Rafferty and Dato.

“This grant is phenomenal,” says Barbara R. Grumet, JD, dean of the School of Professional Studies at New York City College of Technology (City Tech). “It will enable our nursing department to more than double the number of students it serves who are registered nurses (RNs) enrolled in the bachelor of science (RN-BS) degree track.”

The $514,000 grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to City Tech’s Nursing Department, seeks to increase the ranks of Brooklyn’s bachelor’s degree-prepared nurses from underrepresented groups in order to better reflect the ethnic and racial populations of the surrounding community.

The College’s baccalaureate nursing program began admitting students in 2006 and is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Over the three-year grant period, which started this past fall, the number of RN-BS students will increase from 143 to 350.

City Tech’s initiative will adapt the highly successful Vermont Nurses in Partnership (VNIP) model, also funded by HRSA, to meet Brooklyn’s significant healthcare needs. The VNIP model, which “fosters a workplace culture of nurturance and support and professional growth for novice nurses,” has historically been used with nursing students in internships, with new graduates transitioning into initial clinical employment and with nurses transitioning to specialties. The model will be adapted for use in an academic setting with nurses who are already in the urban workforce and are concurrently enrolled in City Tech’s RN-BS program.

Project Director Dr. Candy Dato, associate professor of nursing and coordinator of City Tech’s RN-BS program, notes that the project has national significance because nursing shortages in New York State are projected to be rise dramatically in the coming months and years. Demand for nurses, she says, is expected to exceed supply by as much as 24 percent by 2020, which means a shortage of at least 14,000 nurses. And that number might be conservative. The federal Bureau of Health Professions projects a shortage of New York nurses of nearly 37,000 by 2015.

Acute shortages of nurses is an emerging public health issue and one that is especially felt in low-income and medically underserved areas like metropolitan New York City. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office recently released a report stating that in New York City alone, 59,694 more nurses will be needed over the next 10 years.

The borough of Brooklyn (where City Tech is located) is ranked by HRSA as having the third largest number of medically underserved areas (33) of all counties in the nation. “There is not only a need for more nurses,” says Dr. Dato, “but also a need for more nurses who are culturally responsive to the needs of the patients and communities they serve.”

Addressing this concern, the City Tech initiative also includes dedicated mentoring for Hispanic RN-BS students by Nursing Assistant Professor Aida Egues, a co-principal investigator on the HRSA Grant. According to Dr. Egues, at national and local levels, Hispanic RNs are the most underrepresented group of registered nurses in comparison both to their ethnic/racial population and in terms of attainment of higher degrees in nursing.

As Dr. Egues stresses, while the need for all nurses is dire, it is more so for those nurses of ethnic and racial minority backgrounds, whom research shows increasingly dedicate themselves to administering nursing care and education to diverse populations, such as those of metropolitan New York City and its boroughs.

Sharing responsibilities for this grant as co-principal investigator with Dr. Dato and Dr. Egues is Dr. Peggy Rafferty, assistant professor of nursing at City Tech.


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