The Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies celebrated its second class of advanced practice nurses with a special convocation on Friday, May 17, 2019 that honored 52 students who earned graduate degrees or advanced certificates.
Among the graduates, 43 earned Master of Science degrees to become nurse practitioners in one of two specialties – family nursing or adult-gerontology acute care. Another nine students, including faculty and members of the first graduating class, earned advanced certificates in family nurse practitioner or registered nurse first assistant, two new programs recently introduced at the school.
“Our students are extraordinary individuals; they display the courage to invest their time in new programs, are extremely hard working and resilient, and are capable of managing a full-time job, family responsibilities, and academic requirements,” said Kathleen Gallo, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, the school’s founding dean as well as executive vice president and chief learning officer at Northwell Health. She was joined onstage by Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz and Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling during the ceremony, held in the John Cranford Adams Playhouse. The students graduated two days later during Hofstra’s general commencement exercises.
Most graduates worked full-time at Northwell Health hospitals while pursuing the three-year, part-time master’s program, including Scott Snorteland, who juggled a career as a pediatric nurse at Cohen’s Children’s Hospital, raising a family with two small children, and his studies.
“I chose to go back to school for the MS in family nurse practitioner to challenge myself further with my nursing career,” he said. “I wanted to start to do more with the patients I worked with, and now, I hope to continue with direct patient care but with more autonomy. It is a great feeling to graduate.”
Faculty instructor Gary Plotkin is among the first students to earn the registered nurse first assistant (RNFA) advanced certificate, which trains nurses to assist surgeons in the operating room.
“My primary responsibilities include providing care to post-open-heart surgery patients, but one limitation to my practice is a lack of operative experience as it is not part of the usual curriculum in NP school,” said Plotkin, an acute care nurse practitioner who works in Southside Hospital’s cardiothoracic intensive care unit. “By completing the RNFA course, I can now participate in the operation as a first assist. This will enable me to be a more well-rounded team member who can seamlessly transition and provide care to my patients across the continuum, from pre-op, into the OR, and post-op through discharge.”
In her address, Dean Gallo challenged the new graduates to continue to pursue innovation and excellence in their future careers. Many had already been hired at Northwell Health for positions in areas such as medicine, emergency medicine, interventional radiology, cardiology, and electrophysiology, she noted.
The Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies was launched in 2015, expanding the university and health care system’s successful medical school partnership. It continues the holistic, patient-centered approach pioneered by the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, an educational model that focuses on treating people, rather than illnesses, and emphasizes community-based care.