Nurse-a-Palooza ’19: Island goes all-in on RNs

Scrub up: Farmingdale State College nursing students hit the greens.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

The Summer of the Nurse continues on Long Island.

Just days after the Hofstra-Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies referenced a $2.75 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant in its plan to train and funnel nurses into “underserved communities,” the Island nursing community is innovating again.

First up is the RN NextStep Joint Agreement, signed Wednesday by Farmingdale State College and Suffolk County Community College. The collaboration guarantees students who complete the county college’s nursing associate’s degree program admission into Farmingdale State’s Online RN to BS Completion Program, a finishing school of sorts for professional nurses.

And Northwell Health has further sharpened its nursing focus with the new School Nurse Professional Development Program, designed to help school nurses stay current on clinical care and to help them more effectively treat their K-12 students.

By working directly with nurses in public and private schools, the health system is drilling into the core of community wellbeing – protecting “the physical, emotional and mental health of children from kindergarten through high school,” according to Launette Woolforde, Northwell’s vice president of nursing education and professional development.

Launette Woolford: Community effort.

“We’re committed to caring not just for the children at our hospitals and practices, but for all the children and families in our area,” Woolforde added.

The School Nurse Professional Development Program also addresses a need particular to Long Island and the rest of New York State: Unlike many other states, New York does not require nurses to complete continuing-education courses to maintain their licenses.

Northwell Health has already welcomed some 1,000 regional school nurses to informal seminars “on a variety of healthcare topics” over the last two years, according to the health system. The PDP, developed by the Cohen Children’s Medical Center and the Northwell Health Institute for Nursing, formalizes  Northwell’s involvement with local school districts – much to their delight, noted Northwell Regional Community Relations Director Matthew DePace.

“We became aware that school nurses are often siloed from education on the newest medical treatments and technologies,” DePace said Wednesday. “School nurses are eager for that information, and we’ve made it our mission to bring it to them.”

Suffolk County Community College and FSC, meanwhile, are embracing higher education’s hot joint admissions trend with RN NextStep, which is designed to “provide a convenient and affordable upward-mobility path for nursing students,” according to Farmingdale State.

Specifically, for SCCC students who not only earn those nursing associate’s degrees but pass their board exams to become licensed registered nurses.

Calling it a “model of inter-institutional collaboration,” Farmingdale State College President John Nader said RN NextStep would address the “growing educational needs” of Long Island nurses and “assure quality healthcare outcomes.”

John Nader: Model partnership.

“The partnership builds on the strengths of each institution to deliver a highly regarded program that is both flexible and affordable,” Nader added. “It adds value to the student experience and enhances the level of care delivered in the healthcare system.

“This is precisely the type of educational partnership that Long Island needs.”

The first class of eligible students is projected to graduate SCCC’s nursing program in May 2020, earn their RN credentials and then matriculate directly into Farmingdale’s Online RN to BS Completion Program, targeting a bachelor of science degree in May 2022.

Louis Petrizzo, SCCC senior counsel and executive vice president, trumpeted RN NextStep as both a healthcare essential and a regional economic imperative, part of the community college’s “never-ending search to provide more access and opportunity for all Long Islanders.”

“As we continue to meet the higher-education needs of the residents of our county, cooperative agreements such as this one will become of greater importance,” Petrizzo said in a statement. “Partnering with forward-thinking institutions such as Farmingdale State will forge new paths to economic empowerment for our students.”