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NU, NFMMC launch Niagara County nursing education partnership

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Niagara University and the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center are coming together to train a new generation of nurses. It's an initiative both sides believe will also play a part in the Cataract City's broader social and economic development.

Through a partnership formalized Wednesday, Niagara University's School of Nursing will offer classes on the Medical Center campus. Candidates, including Registered Nurses, will have the opportunity to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing.

"Research in the 90s supports that the B.S. in Nursing is the preferred degree, based on evidence that supports patient outcomes," said Dr. Frances Crosby, director of Niagara University's School of Nursing. 

The program will begin with the coming fall semester with 15 to 30 students participating.

Joseph Ruffolo, president and chief executive officer of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, stated there are more than three million nurses working in the United States, representing the largest percentage of healthcare professionals and the fastest growing population. Despite that, he said, there remains a nursing shortage which is inching closer to crisis mode.

"Dealing with this nursing deficit in varying degrees is an issue that we in health care have been dealing with over the past several decades," Ruffolo said. "But it has worsened to the point where today, we not only have a proliferation of an aging population but we also have a proliferation of an aging nursing population."

The partnership, in addition to training more nurses, will play a role in the city's economic development, participants say. Father James Maher, president of Niagara University, said nurses and those studying nursing understand the "importance of laboratory." He sees this city itself becoming a laboratory through this partnership.

"And it is the laboratory, for Niagara Falls, of economic, social and educational development," Rev. Maher said. "That's what we are committed to in this process. This is a means that will create great blessing. But the bigger picture is our beloved City of Niagara Falls and helping it to claim its future and its destiny."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.