JCC ‘Happy’ For Nursing Degree Legislation

Late last year Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that requires registered nurses to obtain a bachelor’s degree within 10 years of becoming a registered nurse. For Jamestown Community College — a two-year college — its nursing program and its students will be directly affected.

Kathy Taydus, director of nursing education at JCC, said the feeling around New York state is excitement.

“I’m very proud and very happy,” Taydus said of the legislation and being the director at this time.

She said it has always been her feeling that two-year students should further their education and also that the entry level education requirement for nursing students should be a bachelor’s degree. While she does like the fact that students can go to JCC to become a registered nurse and enter the workforce within two years, she believes the best path for patient care is to require four years of education for potential nurses.

Taydus said some members from the community questioned why JCC could not just offer nursing students the entire program.

“It isn’t that simple,” she said.

Because JCC is a two-year community college, future JCC nursing students would hypothetically earn a nursing degree from Jamestown and either join the workforce with the intent of going back to school, work and go to school simultaneously or seek higher education after graduation. As of right now, students looking to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing would have to go out of county. Taydus said that many of the JCC students who seek higher education in nursing tend to go to Damon College, a school that JCC has an articulation agreement with that makes transferring credits from school to school easier.

While JCC can only offer the two-year degree and encourage students to seek further education, Taydus talked about the potential for the community college to look into offering the entire program at Jamestown.

“I’m looking into what we would need to be able to grant a BSN,” Taydus said. “If a student could come here and do the whole thing that would be a plus.”

JCC received the news about the legislation just before the mid-semester break and Taydus admitted that they are “waiting to get more detailed information” involving the law.

Prior to the law, Taydus noted that there was already a noticeable swing in students post-graduation, shifting from joining the workforce to going back to school.

“They see a bachelor’s degree as a ticket for progression upward,” she said.

While she admitted current students and current registered nurses being grandfathered in can escape the legislation, she said the requirement for upcoming nurses to receive a bachelor’s degree might incentivize current nurses to do the same.

Taydus said JCC will now, more than ever, be pushing and guiding students to research other schools and nursing programs to earn their bachelor’s degree as a result of the law being passed.

On Feb. 26, a health and college career day is being held on the Jamestown Campus for nursing students where other four-year programs and professional organizations will be on campus to offer information about their institutions.

Taydus called the career day “timely” with the push for bachelor’s degree now being emphasized in nursing programs.

“Everybody is very excited that the governor has signed this,” she said.

An official press release from the Coalition for Advancement of Nursing Education, American Nurses Association and New York Organization of Nurse Executives and Leaders applauded Cuomo’s decision to sign the law into order and featured various positive comments from prominent figures in the nursing field.

“The Council supports the BS in 10 law … it recognizes and values the contributions of associate degree graduates … as educators we have always encouraged our graduates to continue their education to the BSN degree and beyond,” said Kim Sharpe, president of the Associate Degree Nursing in New York State. “RN/BS completion programs are readily accessible in both online and adult education formats.

This law further expands the strengths of our graduates to meet the increasingly complex healthcare needs of the residents of New York State.”