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SUNY Plattsburgh and CVPH Partner to Help RNs Earn Bachelor's Degrees

Thirty-one years ago, Carol Brown knew the shortest line between points A and RN was a two-year degree.

Today, she’s moving from RN to B.S. in as straight a line as before, only she’s doing it from the comfort of her own workplace.

From Nurse to Student: a ‘Seamless’ Process

Brown is one of 20 registered nurses at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh taking advantage of a new joint initiative between SUNY Plattsburgh and the hospital. The venture helps working nurses earn their bachelor’s degree without leaving the hospital grounds.

According to Chris Blake, CVPH spokesperson, the organizers of the program “wanted to make this a seamless process for our RNs to earn their bachelor’s degree.”

As a result, Dr. Julie Brunelle, associate vice president of patient services at CVPH, and Dr. JoAnn Gleeson-Kreig, professor and chair of nursing and nutrition at SUNY Plattsburgh, created a program that allows RNs to work a regular shift and then take classes taught by SUNY Plattsburgh nursing faculty every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the medical center.

“The push for the B.S. in nursing comes as a result of research showing that better outcomes occur when there is a larger percentage of B.S.-prepared nurses providing the care,” Gleeson-Kreig said. “And since nurses want to play an important part in shaping the future of healthcare, they need the credentials to back that up.

“These are working nurses,” Blake said. “You might have a nurse punch out as unit director of R6 then head over to the medical arts building as a student nurse.”

Funding Helps Make Dream Possible

Brown received her RN at Clinton Community College in 1980.

“Getting my B.S. is something I’ve thought about for years. I made excuses throughout the years — the bottom line is, fear kept me back. The longer I stayed out of school, the more I thought I would attempt and fail. But this program made it a no-brainer,” she said.

Another piece of the program that made it “a no-brainer” for Brown and the rest of the class was scholarship funding provided by both the Plattsburgh College Foundation and sponsors coordinated through the CVPH Foundation. Students receive a minimum of $1,000 each year of the degree program.

Degree Opens Doors

Earning that four-year degree is the future of nursing, Blake said.

“This is also an opportunity for our RNs to look at different career paths here at CVPH. They can go on to do everything from bedside nursing to teaching new nurses,” she said.

“This had been my dream for long enough,” Brown said. “I decided to take a chance because somebody made my long-time dream possible. That’s what helped me get over my fear.”

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