Colleges collaborate to help fill nursing gap in the North Country

Nursing shortages have been felt across the country. In New York’s North Country, a partnership of area colleges hopes to bring in a new wave of students
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 5:10 AM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - Nursing shortages have been felt across the country. In New York’s North Country, a partnership of area colleges hopes to bring in a new wave of students looking to join the health care field.

Traditionally, students could get an associate’s degree and then their RN through a two-year program at Clinton Community College. But now, an integrated program in partnership with SUNY Plattsburgh will let students graduate with a bachelor’s degree and workforce experience to hit the ground running as nurses.

Nursing is a calling for many who enter the profession. Lilly Morello was inspired to join the field after giving birth to her son and admiring the nurses who helped her. Leyla Bouti felt compelled after her work as an EMT made her curious about nurses’ scope of practice.

“Their direct involvement with patients, that bedside care skills. So that really appealed to me,” said Bouti.

The students are in their first of two years at Clinton’s nursing program to get their associate degrees and become RNs.

These students could become nurses in different health care settings, a needed job in a national workforce shortage.

“Having that idea that your job is so meaningful, and it’s going to help in a good way, it makes it you know, a no-brainer, like it makes it a lot easier to go to work,” said Morello.

Katrina Evens, the director of Nursing at CCC, says before the pandemic, the North County was somewhat isolated from the nursing shortage. But things have changed.

“One word pretty much: desperate. The pandemic highlighted a desperate need, and it’s continuing to get worse,” said Evens.

In an effort to get more students in health care, CCC is partnering with SUNY Plattsburgh to create a flexible way for both traditional and nontraditional students to further their education. Students would take general education and nursing classes at both colleges for the first three years, then they’re able to get real-life experience during their fourth year while also taking their last few classes at Plattsburgh to graduate with their bachelor’s degree.

“One that comes to our program would have a year of experience on their resume. It puts strong nurses at the bedside earlier. Getting out of school, getting licensed earlier,” said Evens.

They’re looking to attract students they don’t typically get, like those right out of high school, many of whom don’t go to Clinton’s current nursing program because of its fast, rigorous nature.

Another group they’re hoping to attract to the North Country is students who don’t just live nearby.

“We have a pilot test for students in this degree program to be able to have the option of living in dormitories at SUNY Plattsburgh and being on a meal plan. So that changes the situation very significantly,” said John Kowal, the president of Clinton Community College.

Evens said the original program isn’t going anywhere, this is just a new option. It will kick off in the fall and the goal is to have a class of about 20 students.

Clinton Community College said their in-state tuition has remained the same over the past five years but they recently lowered out-of-state tuition to be the same price as in-state. Taking classes at SUNY Plattsburgh would come at no extra cost.