In an attempt to meet the growing demand for nurses in Western New York, Genesee Community College’s nursing program now enrolls 250 students, Nursing Program Director Kathy L. Palumbo reported to the Board of Trustees Monday evening. Genesee expanded its nursing program two years ago, Ms. Palumbo noted. Prior to 2007, Genesee admitted approximately 72 nursing students with the fall semester. In 2007-2008 Genesee admitted 132 students, splitting the enrollment between the fall and spring semesters, and the College increased the number of admitted students to 150 in 2008-2009 academic year.
With the average age of working nurses now nearing 50, and an aging population in Western New York and in most parts of the nation, nurses will be in even greater demand in the years ahead, Ms. Palumbo said. “And with changes in the health insurance system, we may see 47 million more Americans who are currently uninsured entering the health care system,” she said. “The whole system will be overloaded.”
The quality of the program and the popularity of the profession are leading increasing numbers of individuals to apply. Last spring, the nursing admissions committee reviewed 220 applications – about three applications for every student admitted in August.
In addition, Genesee has made numerous program innovations such as:
•New Simulators. These mannequin simulators give nursing students the opportunity to observe and react to conditions they will eventually experience in hospitals and other health care settings. The new mannequins are programmed with pulses, breathing rates, and a variety of physical conditions. Students practice nursing skills on the mannequins, including taking vital signs or inserting tubes.
•Personal Digital Assistants. All Genesee nursing students now carry PDAs (personal digital assistants), which are programmed with diagnostic tools, a complete pharmaceutical reference, and information previously contained in textbooks. Students can use the PDAs at Genesee and during their clinical rotations off campus.
•Pharmaceutical Dispensers. The nursing program now uses electronic medication dispensing technology, similar to what is used in hospitals.
•“Clicker” Technology. The nursing program will soon host Genesee’s first “clicker classrooms.” These classrooms will be equipped with “clicker response” systems giving students the ability to submit instantaneous answers to instructors’ questions or feedback to problems at their workstations in real time.
•International Education. The nursing program will launch an international exchange program in the year ahead, giving some nursing students the opportunity to study nursing and participate in clinical education abroad. Two Genesee students will study in an Australian hospital in 2010.
The nursing program expansion is possible because of the anticipated move to the new Bruce Holm Med Tech Park on the south side of Hawley Drive in June 2010. The nursing program will be located on the second floor of the first building in the Med Tech Park. The new facilities will include classrooms, seminar space, faculty offices, and three state-of-the-art nursing labs.
Genesee’s nursing program has earned an outstanding reputation, Ms. Palumbo told trustees. In recent years, an average 92% of Genesee grads pass the National League of Nursing examination on their first attempt, higher than the state average of 85%.
“Our nurses are very much in demand in our communities,” she said. “Many health care providers tell us they will take a GCC nursing grad over anybody else.”