Strengthening the Rural Nursing Workforce
Special Projects Fund
November 25, 2008
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Hartwick College’s baccalaureate nursing program is one of only two nursing education programs in the seven-county Central Leatherstocking region of upstate New York, an area with a population of 700,000. A severe nursing shortage exists in this region; however, enrollment in Hartwick’s nursing program has grown from 88 students in 2003 to 187 in 2007.
Hartwick College’s Department of Nursing has created a flexible, accelerated nursing degree program targeting local adult and second-degree students. This was not a marginal expansion, but a new option in nursing education in a region of upstate New York with no similar program. The project addressed the need to prepare baccalaureate-educated nurses to enter the workforce more quickly than traditional four-year programs. Recruited from the adult, second-degree, or career transition population of upstate New York, courses are offered at a variety of times and formats to accommodate working students. Because many of these students already have college degrees, the educational period can be shortened, enabling students to enter the workforce more quickly. The students’ work experience better prepares them to cope with the high-stress hospital environment. Finally, program graduates—working adults with ties to their communities—are more likely to remain in the region, thus alleviating the area’s nursing shortage and adding to its economic wellbeing. The Department of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and Hartwick graduates have had a pass rate of 90% for the NCLEX-RN licensing examination. The College has longstanding relationships with Bassett Healthcare and A.O. Fox Hospital, the largest health care providers in the region.