NU, NFMMC announce new nursing program

James Neiss/staff photographerNiagara Falls Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo and Niagara University President, the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., on Wednesday signed a partnership agreement kicking off NU School of Nursing classes at the hospital. 

Niagara University and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center have announced a new partnership aimed at improving educational opportunities for registered nurses. 

The agreement, announced Wednesday by Niagara University’s president, the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., and the hospital's President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo, calls for NU to conduct credit courses at the medical center to enable registered nurses enrolled as students to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. 

In addition to the nursing classes hosted by the hospital, classes will be made available on Niagara’s campus for both memorial employees and non-employees who enroll in the program. An initial cohort of 15 to 30 students will begin studies at memorial during the upcoming fall semester.

“We consider it of paramount importance to construct and develop dynamic partnerships with the people and communities of Niagara Falls, and this newest component of our partnership with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center will further enhance Western New York’s standing as a national leader in the health and life sciences,” Maher said.

Maher said deepening of the partnership reemphasizes the commitment from both organizations to facilitate the social and economic development of Niagara Falls, and illustrates a concrete way that NU and Memorial are working together to revitalize the city.

“Leveraging our resources to provide nurses with the most advanced learning tools is consistent with our Catholic and Vincentian mission to educate men and women who are dedicated to serving people in need,” he said. “Nurses are people who, in the words of Pope Francis, ‘seek to live in God’s compassionate mercy each and every day.’ ”

The initiative will address a nursing deficit the United States has been dealing with for decades, Ruffolo said.

“An aging population and the rising incidence of chronic disease has made the need for nurses greater than ever. Unfortunately, the combination of nurse retirements with the limited capacity of the nation’s nursing schools has put the shortage of nurses on the cusp of becoming a crisis,’’ Ruffolo said. “This educational partnership with Niagara University will address the nursing deficit in a meaningful way. And by combining academic study with the type of practical learning experiences we can offer in areas such as population health outreach, cardiac and stroke care, care coordination and primary care we know our BSN graduates will have a bedrock education upon which they can build a rewarding career.”

Niagara University will provide faculty members to teach the program’s courses and will work with the medical center to identify opportunities for case studies, research projects, guest speakers and other resources to enhance students’ learning experiences.

It’s a combination that will benefit not only the university and the medical center but the entire region, Ruffolo said.

The new program is especially timely in light of a measure signed into law last December by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“While there are several routes to becoming a registered nurse, a bachelor’s degree is the preferred degree by employers,” said Dr. Fran Crosby, director of Niagara University’s School of Nursing. “New York state recently passed the ‘B.S. in 10’ legislation, which requires new associate degree-prepared nurses to complete their B.S. within 10 years of graduation. At Niagara University, we provide the upper-level nursing courses to enable associate degree working nurses, who often have family responsibilities as well, to obtain their B.S. in our RN-to-B.S. nursing completion program. These nurses bring tremendous experience, examples, compassion and enthusiasm to their studies. We are just delighted to partner with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to support cohorts of nurses as they complete their B.S. in nursing with NU. This truly is a win-win-win.”

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