Campus News

SUNY grant targets improved nursing services for rural areas

Concept of graduating nurses, featuring two women wearing scrubs standing in front of a chalk board that has two graduation caps drawn around the women's heads.


Published March 16, 2022

“There is a shortage of registered nurses throughout the country and in New York State, but this shortage is especially dire in rural areas in Western New York. Working with Alfred State to address this shortage is a step in the right direction. ”
Yu-Ping Chang, senior associate dean
School of Nursing

The School of Nursing and Alfred State College have received funding to increase enrollment and address emerging trends in nursing education, eventually increasing medical services in underserved populations.

The $250,000 grant from the SUNY High Needs Nursing supports such efforts as a program liaison to coordinate activities between campuses, workshops and training events, and telehealth-related equipment and enhancements, according to UB nursing administrators.

“The High Needs Program grant between Alfred State College and the University at Buffalo School of Nursing will be the inaugural, collaborative endeavor between these two SUNY nursing campuses,” says Pamela Paplham, clinical professor and assistant dean in the School of Nursing’s MS/DNP programs.

“Through the efforts of both schools, we hope to increase not only RNs and NPs in the workforce, but nursing faculty hires in an effort to achieve larger enrollments.”

Paplham and Yu-Ping Chang, senior associate dean in the School of Nursing, are co-leaders of the SUNY grant for UB. Paplham will supervise the clinical and training side of the grant, while Chang leads the project evaluation and monitoring side.

The joint program between Alfred State and UB will allow enrollment to expand in both the dual degree AAS/BS program at Alfred State and the Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program at UB, according to UB administrators.

“There is a shortage of registered nurses throughout the country and in New York State, but this shortage is especially dire in rural areas in Western New York,” says Chang. “Working with Alfred State to address this shortage is a step in the right direction.”

Alfred State — its immediate service area is comprised of five large and extremely rural counties — is no stranger to this nursing shortage. The shortage is further complicated by the college’s challenge in increasing the number of student applicants from the area.

The joint UB and Alfred State program will be a first step in working to attract students from the area and will eventually lead to increased numbers of both bedside baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses (RNs) and doctorally prepared nurse practitioners in the workforce, specifically in the rural and medically underserved areas of areas of New York State currently facing critical nursing shortages, according to administrators.

Nursing faculty from Alfred State agree the collaborative grant would lead to better and more care for the rural community surrounding the college.

“We hope this will create more opportunities for our local nurses to finish their advanced degrees,” says Jessica R. Lippa, associate professor and chair of the nursing department at Alfred State. “I am grateful to be an alumna from the University at Buffalo, having graduated in 2019 with a doctorate of nursing practice degree, and will now be able to assist others in our local area to become UB alumni as well.

Lippa says the collaboration will also lead to increased enrollment in the college’s dual degree (AAS/BS in nursing) program to assist with nursing shortages.

“We are grateful for this Nursing Emergency Training Funds opportunity and look forward to improving the educational opportunities available in our area,” she says.

The grant identifies the nursing shortage at the global, national and state levels, and calls the problem “particularly alarming in rural and remote areas.”

“Attracting nursing students from the local area and training them on the nuances of working with the local rural and medically underserved population is extremely important,” says Chang. She explains that previous research suggests that recruiting students from rural backgrounds is an effective strategy to enhance the supply of rural health care providers, as students tend to practice near their place of education.

This trend is supported by a 2018 study by the Rockefeller Institute of Government that found that 71% of SUNY graduates in the health professions and related clinical sciences stayed in New York State to work for at least 10 years after their graduation, according to the proposal.

“The Alfred State College and UB School of Nursing Emergency Training Program will help the five-county target area to deal with many of the challenges that are currently impacting enrollment, and will provide a long-term benefit in addressing many of the challenges that the area is facing now and in the future,” says Chang.