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Charitable grant allows NU to expand its nursing curriculum

Three nursing students in white scrubs practice CPR on a training dummy.
Niagara University

A sizeable charitable grant will help Niagara University give its nursing students and nursing grads a little extra boost, as they move into the world of care.

The Lewiston school has around 350 nursing students and around 80 of them will graduate at the end of the semester, a mix of the standard four-year program and some who have already graduated from college and came to NU for an exhausting one-year degree program.

Nursing Dean Chris Verni said those graduates will get jobs immediately, with 100 possible lines of work, particularly in regular nursing.

Verni said a new $400,000 grant from the Cabrini foundation will enrich the curriculum, like extended lessons in dealing with older patients.

"Those are resources that we don't necessarily have," Verni said. "We are focusing on providing a great curriculum and the Cabrini Foundation is generous enough to say to us, 'You know what? We want you to think outside of the box. We want you to find new and novel ways to teach students. We want you to make sure that when they get out of school, they are resilient.'"

It will also help bring real-life experiences into the classroom through actors simulating patients, scenarios and medical conditions. NU has a large acting program that can supply those performers.

New nurses are moving into a workforce that's been ground down by COVID-19, while knowing what they are getting into and choosing to continue training for the coveted RN.

"They want to help other humans. They want to help people who are vulnerable. They want to promote health. They want to contribute to good health outcomes," Verni said. "And so, they see what's in the media. They hear about all the challenges that have occurred over the last two years. But they also have the perspective of individuals who were nurses before COVID started."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.