News Pulse - State University of New York at New Paltz


Technology, faculty are best medicine
to address national nursing shortage

Today’s nursing students have turned in hard copies of The Merrick Manual of Medical Information for a handheld communication devices to diagnose and treat patients.

Such state-of-the-art technology and skilled faculty members are just what the doctor ordered for nursing programs like New Paltz’s to treat a projected national nursing shortage that could reach more than a million nurses by 2020, according to the American Association of
Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

Advanced practice graduate students at New Paltz are learning to use the PDAs (personal digital assistants), equipped with pharmaceutical
and diagnostic software, in clinical classroom settings. The technology was purchased through the college’s Student Computing Access Program.

Photo
Nursing students Mercy Mathew (left) and Marie Laurent (right)receive advice from faculty member Deena Gill (center) on interviewing techniques for patients.

Eleanor Richards, chair of the Nursing Department, said that nursing instructors skilled in the latest technology are essential to the program.

The department is expanding the population it reaches with the help of technology. As part of the recent renovation to van den Berg Hall, the department’s distance learning center was equipped with Interactive Television (ITV).

As a result, a first-year gradu-ate course is broadcasted to students at an extension site in Rockland County. Undergraduate courses are
broadcasted to sites in Middletown and Sullivan County, and the department anticipates offering courses in Orange and Westchester counties. There are plans to purchase additional ITV equipment to deliver courses to area hospitals with $97,000 in SUNY Central funds that were procured over the summer.

Richards said that the programs accessibility is key, because students often are already working full-time jobs. They are typically students
like Sonia Dinac ’08, who works at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern.

“These students often have full-time commitments outside the classroom and they still come to school and meet their requirements,” said Richards.

There are 364 students registered with the department this semester, up from 309 last year. While enrollment grows, a contributing factor to the national nursing shortage is a nursing faculty vacancy. The AACN attributes the decline to budget constraints, retiring faculty and increasing job competition from clinical sites throughout the nation.

The college has six faculty members. Five of the six nursing faculty members at the college have doctorates; the sixth will pursue a doctorate in nursing education next fall. Richards is aware of how fortunate the department is to have such trained faculty members as Deena Gill, who in addition to having a doctorate in nursing education, maintains her clinical expertise as a certified family nurse practitioner and certified gerontological nurse practitioner.

“The difficulty is attracting masters-and doctoral-prepared faculty to nursing education, which, in turn, impacts the critical nursing shortage,” said Richards. For more information on the Nursing Department, visit www.newpaltz.edu/nursing.

September 25, 2006
Volume 4, Issue 18

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News Pulse is published every other week for the faculty and staff of SUNY New Paltz by the Office of Public Affairs. It is printed in-house on recycled paper.

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