Reprinted with permission. By Jason Jordan / The Evening Tribune
ALFRED — “Nurses do things that other people don’t want to do. Nurses also do things that other people cannot do ... Nurses rock!” said Alfred State President Dr. Skip Sullivan.
Alfred State celebrated the milestone with a banquet honoring its alumni at Lake Lodge in Alfred Station on Thursday. For 50 years, producing consistently good nurses has been a priority at the college, and for good reason.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, registered nursing is among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2022. The workforce is expected to increase by 526,800 or 19 percent. Additionally, 525,000 nurses will be needed to replace those retiring in the same time span.
“There will always be jobs in nursing. There aren’t enough graduates to fill those slots and it’s one of those critical fields where we need to produce as many nurses as we can to meet the needs of the industry,” Sullivan said.
It also comes down to the experience of being in a hospital.
For program administrators, it was important to bring multiple generations of nurses together, so new graduates have as feel for how things have changed over time.
“Letting our current nursing students see the past, see the history, seeing the success and models are very, very critical, and we want to celebrate those as often as possible moving forward,” Sullivan said.
Alexandra Francisco, 2017 program class president, said she was glad to be a part of the celebration.
“It’s an absolute honor to have been a part of something that’s so big. The program has been great for so many years,” she said.
The field of nursing is ever-changing and students adapt.
“You learn something in Nursing 1, and by the time you get to Nursing 4, there’s some things they discovered that didn’t work as effectively,” Francisco said.
Dana Langdon, secretary of the class of 2017 outlined some of the ongoing changes. Students now get real world experience in lab settings that mirror real life, employing dummies that breathe and act like humans.
“It really brings our nursing experience to life,” Langdon said.
Flexible learning, with a bachelor’s degree offered online, also eases the transition from school to work.
“You can start working and take those classes online. It’s especially good for people with families,” Francisco said.
The school boasts a track record of job placement, something that has been a staple over the years. Rural and urban hospitals alike, across the state are staffed with students from Alfred, a tradition that honored guest Jayne Krusen-McCaffery (Class of ’67) was proud to be a part of.
“We were very close and a lot of us left here and went to Rochester. We were told for two years that we were being trained as bedside nurses and not to take charge in those positions and within two months at Rochester, all the nurses on the night shift were either from Alfred or Corning,” she said.
She eventually came back to work at Bethesda Hospital at the Maternity Ward in Hornell until it closed.
“It takes a special person to go into nursing. It’s not an easy profession. You have to realize that you’re going to get into some situations, but it’s an awesome profession. If there’s one area you don’t like, there are so many others you can get into,” Krusen-McCaffery said.
Eventually, she found her calling in hospice nursing.
“You know what to expect, especially working in hospice. There’s a lot of degrees to going out peacefully and having your wishes carried out,” she said. “We’re all coming to that.”
While the field of nursing is ever-changing, one thing never changes ... the gratifying feeling of helping someone in need.
“There’s so many changes with medicine and technology, but it’s a fulfilling way to go about life ... be ready to work, but go for it,” Krusen-McCaffery said.
The event was keynoted by Deb Elliott, executive director of the Center for Nursing and Nurses House, who outlined the necessity of two-year nursing programs and how nurses can reach out and effect their communities in new ways.
“Nurses are leaders no matter what setting, no matter what job title or our name tag says. We lead patient care, we lead teams of care providers, we make leading hospitals, leading academic institutions and programs,” she said.
However, changing demographics are forcing nurses to exercise leadership in new roles as nursing becomes more data driven, leaves the walls of hospitals and goes online, into private practices and into the homes of patients.
Looking forward, the nursing program at Alfred State is destined to grow even further, according to Sullivan.
“We see the program growing and building over time. The more clinical associations we can have with hospitals the larger the program we can build to,” he said.
The evening was concluded with a round table remembrance, and a tribute reading of the poem “The Nightingale Tribute” in memory of alumni that had passed.