Hofstra, NS-LIJ nursing school unveiled

stuart rabinowitzHofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz co-chairs the Long Island regional economic development council, which will compete for funding with nine other New York regions.

Hofstra University and the North Shore-LIJ Health System unveiled plans for a School of Graduate Nursing and Health Professions, with school officials saying the initial focus is on health care professionals already at work in the region.

North Shore-LIJ spokesman Terry Lynam told Innovate-LI that the expectation is the student population of the new Hempstead school – jointly announced this week by Hofstra University and the ever-expanding health system – will be largely comprised of nurses already working for North Shore-LIJ and other regional providers.

“We anticipate that most of the graduates will be practicing locally and sharing their skills with patients who live and work here,” Lynam said. “The idea is these folks will stay put.”

The reinforcements will be sorely needed on Long Island. With the Affordable Care Act swelling the number of health-insured people and the Island’s population aging rapidly, there simply isn’t enough medical care available to meet the growing regional demand for clinical services. Hence the new school, which folds in Hofstra’s existing physician-assistant program and adds the graduate nursing program – a 52-credit, 840-clinical-hour marathon that, pending state approval, will result in a master’s degree in nursing, with focuses on either family or gerontology nursing.

Both physician assistants and nurse practitioners can prescribe medications, Lynam noted, allowing them to sufficiently fill the clinical-demand gap. In a written statement announcing the new school, Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz said the GNHP graduates would “help build a comprehensive network of healthcare options,” while North Shore-LIJ CEO Michael Dowling cited “another bold step toward redesigning both medical and nursing education to reflect the rapid changes occurring in the way healthcare is accessed, delivered and paid for.”

The reinforcements will arrive slowly, with 30 anticipated students in the school’s first year, 50 in the second and 65 in subsequent years. That’s presuming the state approves the proposed GNHP curriculum, and how long it takes those students to complete their course loads will vary, since the anticipation is most will be part-students already employed in some healthcare capacity.

But the economic effect of the new school should be felt sooner. Most of the professors will be existing North Shore-LIJ staffers, Lynam said, but the school will be hiring an undisclosed number of professionals to manage day-to-day operations. And the new school – which joins Hofstra’s existing School of Health Sciences and Human Services and North Shore-LIJ’s 19 hospitals and 400-plus outpatient facilities – will also interact extensively with other components of Long Island’s innovation economy.

“There will certainly be interaction with local businesses,” Lynam said. “The whole idea is to develop a program that integrates theory and practice and is very much focused on experience. You learn by doing, and it will integrate with other businesses on Long Island by interacting with patients in clinical settings, both in and out of our hospitals.”