Initiative Will Help New York City Combat Nursing Shortage and Create Jobs

New York, July 27, 2009 – City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and CUNY Director and Dean for Health and Human Services, William Ebenstein, St. Vincent’s Hospital and New York Presbyterian Hospital today welcomed a new class of nurses to this year’s CUNY nursing program. This comes after Speaker Quinn and the university announced plans earlier this year to create 100 additional nurses each year for New York City for the next five years. The goal of this initiative, announced in the Speaker’s State of the City address, will be to create new jobs and help address the nursing shortage that has plagued New York City for years. Speaker Quinn was also joined by Jennifer Raab, President of Hunter College, Kristine Gebbie, Dean of Hunter College’s Nursing School, Miriam Carasa, Chief Nursing Office at St.Vincent’s Hospital, Norma Amsterdam, Executive Vice President of the Nursing Division at 1199 SEIU, the New York State Nurses Association and Rebecca King a first year nursing student.

There are nearly 63,000 nurses in New York City, and 17% are 55 years old or older. Due to population increases, an aging population and retirement, New York City will need 7000 more nurses by 2020 than it is projected to have. As a result, if the current trajectory continues, New York City’s nursing shortage will only continue to get worse.

“Nurses are such a vital part to the healthcare system and are the backbone to hospitals and especially to patients,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This simple initiative, partnering CUNY nursing students with our hospital’s nurses, will not only create jobs when our residents need them the most, but will help our health system and hospitals that are already working with a shortage of nurses. I welcome this new class of nurses and I know that they will serve our community well.”

The nursing shortage in New York City is not due to lack of interest in the profession. Every year, 1,600 nurses graduate from CUNY schools throughout the City, and most of them remain within the five boroughs to practice. However, last year there were an additional 575 qualified applicants who are turned away due to lack of capacity at schools to teach them. These 575 people represent jobs that are lying vacant – not because they aren’t needed – but because the City doesn’t have the proper resources to train them.

In an effort to address the nursing shortage and get more New Yorkers to work, Speaker Quinn proposed a five-year partnership between CUNY and New York City hospitals to increase the faculty at City nursing programs. Through this initiative, CUNY will work with hospitals to identify ten experienced nurses who will become guest faculty for one year. This will allow nurses to make a short term commitment to teaching, without losing their benefits. These ten additional faculty members will allow CUNY to admit an additional 100 nursing students to their programs each year, thereby creating 500 extra nurses in the next five years.

“This is a great day for CUNY nurses,” said Council Member Charles Barron . “This City Council initiative addressed the need for nurses in a city where there is a great shortage. We will continue our commitment to provide nurses in this city. This is a great day for CUNY and the city.”

“Becoming a nurse is one of the best professions available,” said Council Member Joel Rivera. “We need to ensure that people, who are looking for a solid career with great compensation, can have the resources available at their disposal. This joint collaboration between CUNY and the City Council brings us that much closer to getting people to work in a field that currently has a shortage.”

“CUNY is very appreciative that Speaker Quinn and the NYC Council have provided funds to expand our nursing programs,” said Lexa Logue, CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost. “These additional resources will help to jump start the new accelerated BS in Nursing offered through Hunter College and will also strengthen the partnership between the nursing programs at Lehman College and Borough of Manhattan Community College with St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center. Through the Hunter initiative students will be able to enter the nursing workforce sooner. Through the collaboration with SVCMC nursing students will graduate with enhanced clinical competencies.”

“The extra support from the City sponsored by Speaker Quinn will allow us to expand Hunter’s nursing programs with the A2D, our new accelerated pathway into the profession for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree,” said Kristine M. Gebbie, DrPH, RN, Dean of School of Nursing at Hunter College. “As these adult learners become RN’s they increase our ability to meet the nursing needs of the City and elsewhere.”

“St Vincent’s is very pleased with our partnership with CUNY to pilot the ”Distinguished Lecturer Program” as a joint appointment model between a university-based program and an acute care hospital,” said Miriam Carasa, Ed.D, RN, CNA, Chief Nursing Officer at Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers. “This partnership is an advanced approach to addressing the nursing shortage now and in years to come by working towards expanding the number of nursing faculty, enhancing the clinical experience for nursing students, and increasing the number of well prepared nurses, ready to face the challenges of providing quality nursing care in our New York hospitals.”

“We applaud Speaker Christine Quinn for her leadership in addressing the nursing shortage in New York,” said George Gresham, President, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “As the population ages, and the nursing workforce shrinks through retirement and attrition, we need a long-term solution. We thank Speaker Quinn for expanding funding for CUNY’s RN training initiative. The program is a smart and strategic step towards maintaining the RN workforce at a level that protects the quality healthcare of New Yorkers.”