$10 Million Investment in NYC Nurses

In an effort to help about 400 low-income New Yorkers enter and advance in the nursing profession, the city has created a new program called the Nurse Career Ladder Program.

Through New York’s Center for Economic Opportunity, the city will help fund the students’ education and training over the next four years, pledging $10 million to the program.

About $3 million is designated for the program’s operations, even stretching to include things such as covering students’ fees for prep-course review and exam materials, through 2011.

The RN program will enroll about 240 students, while about 160 students will enroll in the LPN program. The program has plans to recruit students through the Department of Education’s adult and continuing education program, city job centers, and through referrals from community based organizations.

The remaining $7 million will be allocated to the construction of a new nursing school at Kings County Hospital.

The dean of Long Island University’s nursing school, Dawn Kilts, says a new nursing school will help alleviate the “severe shortage” of nurses in Brooklyn and help improve the economic future of members of the local community.

The leaders behind this program agree that this will help to raise the living standards of low-wage workers by enabling them to learn a skill in a field that is projected to offer higher wages and future growth.

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For example, about two-third of the students earn less than 130% of the federal poverty level ($26,840 for a family of four). In contrast, once the students graduate and become licensed nurses, the program guarantees employment at city hospitals. Salaries for new nurses in New York range from $37,000 to $62,000 a year, according to the Center for Economic Opportunity.

Public-Private Measures

This is not the first public initiative to address the RN shortage. In January 2007, Tennessee state health officials launched the Graduate Nursing Loan Forgiveness campaign to raise $1.4 million for a scholarship program to help RNs earn graduate degrees needed to teach nursing.

In November 2006, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich opened the Illinois Center for Nursing to ensure that the state can educate, recruit, and retain nurses.

These measures are in line with what PricewaterhouseCoopers recommended in July 2007, when it released a report titled What Works: Healing the Healthcare Staffing Shortage. This report recommended more public-private partnerships, creating healthy work environments, and using technology as a training tool, among other ideas.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.