ALBANY, N.Y., June 2, 2005 ¾ When Albany Medical Center was adversely affected by the nationwide nursing shortage a few years ago, hospital administrators and nursing leadership developed a number of innovative programs to address that problem. One of the programs implemented in 2002 was the “Growing Our Own” program— a work-study program in conjunction with Hudson Valley Community College.
Today, the first 14 graduates of that program were honored at a special ceremony at the Medical Center. In congratulating the new graduates, interim Chief Nursing Officer Mary Ellen Plass, RN said, “ We are so pleased that all of you, who have been long-time employees of Albany Medical Center, decided to take this opportunity to further your education and expand your careers. We look forward to you continuing to serve our patients with both the skill and compassion that is the hallmark of the nursing staff at Albany Med.”
The Growing Our Own program, which was partially underwritten by a $75,000 gift from Key Bank, provides eligible AMC employees with the financial and academic resources to return to school in an associate degree program to become registered nurses. Students receive full tuition and are allowed a reduction in work hours with full-time pay, in exchange for committing to work for four years at the Medical Center after graduation. Current program participants average 33 years of age and five-and-a-half years of employment at Albany Med in a variety of positions including licensed practical nurses, operating room technicians and patient care associates
The members of the graduating class, most of whom received their diplomas at a ceremony at Hudson Valley Community College on May 21, were Kathleen Everson, Kay Boettcher, Sara King, Edward Goosmann, Michelle Kindt, Jennifer Laager, Sara Lombardi,
Jennifer Maxwell, Jessica McEnaney, Greggory Rockower, Anna Danuta Carroll, Nancy Keary, Alla Psikova and Evelyn Springsteen Shields.
In speaking about the program, recent graduate Kathleen Everson said, “ With two young children and a disabled husband, going back to school was not an option for me. When the opportunity to further my education came about with the Growing Our Own program, I was elated. Graduating, and the advancement that completing the program brings, will completely change my family’s quality of life.”
Joining Plass at the event were several staff members including Karen Clement–O’Brien, RN, the director of education and development and Bonnie Wood, RN, the academic coordinator, as well as nurse managers and other personnel who have been involved in supporting the program and its participants for the past three years. Representatives from Key Bank and the Community Foundation, which also provided a grant for the program, were also present to congratulate the graduates.
Speaking at the event, Steven M. Frisch, M.D., executive vice president of IDS and hospital systems general director at Albany Medical Center said, “Growing Our Own is an example of a creative idea that through the efforts of many people has become an amazing success story. Whether you wrote a check, rearranged numerous schedules to accommodate leave time, or spent many hectic weeks balancing the demands of home, work, and a very rigorous academic program, I hope you will share the pride that I feel in being a part of this success.”
The graduates are now participating in an orientation program at the Medical Center and will soon take their licensing exams. Once they receive their licenses, they will begin their new careers as registered nurses at Albany Med. The Growing Our Own program as well as others instituted by the Medical Center, has helped to dramatically reduce the hospital’s nursing shortage.
For additional information, contact the Albany Med public relations department at 518-262-3421.