Select Page

Institute for Nursing


The nation is facing a critical nursing shortage that raises costs and threatens the health care of hundreds of millions of Americans. In 2007, New York State hospitals had a 5% vacancy rate of registered nurses – and, at the same time, tens of thousands of qualified candidates were turned away from nursing schools because there aren’t enough faculty to teach them. The issue is particularly timely, when our economy is losing so many jobs – nursing is one place where we can’t fill the jobs we have. In 2008 the Foundation of New York State Nurses (FNYSN), in collaboration with the New York State Area Health Education System and a panel of distinguished nursing workforce experts, nursing educators, nursing executives and regulators, initiated establishment of the Institute for Nursing in New York State. This non-partisan entity is dedicated to insuring an adequate supply of qualified nursing personnel in New York State. A distinguished group of nursing leaders constitute the Institute Steering Committee listed below.

The Goals and Objectives of the Institute for Nursing

Goal I: Gather data about the current and future supply of and demand for the nursing workforce.
1)Identify sources of data about people and organizations, e.g., NYS State Board for Nursing, NYS Department of Health, NYS Center for Health Workforce Studies, Healthcare Association of New York State, Greater New York Hospital Association, Long Term Care Association, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Census, other research data;
2) Gather data from identified sources;
3) Conduct periodic studies;
4) Collaborate with others on studies.

Goal II: Synthesize data about the workforce for use in (a) policy development and (b) program planning.
Objective: Evaluate quality of data and conclusions in articles, reports and documents.

Goal III: Disseminate information about the nursing work force.
1) Publicize available information in published reports and articles, newsletters, website, press conferences, presentations.
2) Produce Nursing Institute data, reports, conferences and presentations.

Goal IV: Serve as a repository of nursing workforce data.
1) Hold data and reports;
2) Provide public access to documents and reports.

Goal V: Convene nursing workforce stakeholders and experts around nursing workforce issues as needed.
1) Identify nursing workforce issues;
2) Convene meetings of stakeholders and experts to develop recommendations and action plans to resolve these issues.

In light of CPE’s mission to increase public understanding of nursing and its priority to provide leadership in resolving all aspects of the nursing shortage, the Institute is housed in this Center.

Development of the Institute had been a priority of the Center’s BOT and staff, including the former executive director, Susan Fraley, former director of the Center for Public Education, Beth Allison and former executive director, Cathryne A. Welch. The Institute Steering Committee was developed to broaden nursing, interdisciplinary and consumer involvement in the work of the Institute. It is also developing a strategic plan and a work plan identifying activities, timelines and responsible parties for implementing the Institute’s mission, goals and objectives.

Institute Steering Committee

  • Carol S. Brewer, PhD, RN, Professor of Nursing, University at Buffalo School of Nursing. Director of Nursing of the New York State Area Health Education Center System (NYS AHEC), University at Buffalo, and Chair, Institute Steering Committee.
  • Dianne Cooney-Miner, PhD, RN, Dean and Professor, Wegmans School of Nursing, St. John’s Fisher College, Rochester and Chair, New York State Council of Deans and Directors in Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs in Nursing.
  • Christine T. Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN, Senior Fellow, Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing and Professor, both at New York University College of Nursing.
  • Marianne Markowitz, MS, RN, Dean, College of Nursing, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center, Syracuse and President, New York State Council of Associate Degree Nursing Programs.
  • Mary Ellen Plass, MS, RN, Senior Vice-President and Chief Nursing Officer at Albany Medical Center, Albany, NY and a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Organization of Nurse Executives and Co-chair of its Public Policy Committee.
  • Cathryne A. Welch, EdD, RN, Director of the Foundation’s Bellevue Alumnae Center for Nursing History and the Central New York Nurses Center for Nursing Research and Director, Institute for Nursing.
  • Barbara Zittel, PhD, RN, (former)Executive Secretary, New York State Board of Nursing
  • Drs. Brewer and Kovner (both of whom are recipients of the Foundation’s Distinguished Nurse Researcher Award) are recipients are investigating factors which influence attrition and retention among newly licensed nurses. Their work is funded by a $10 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

All-Country Nursing Education Summit

In response to the invitation to send a New York State Team to the February 2009 All-Country Nursing Education Capacity Summit (co-sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AARP, the AARP Foundation, the Center to Champion Nursing, and the US Departments of Health and Human Resources and Labor) the Institute Steering Committee assembled a New York State Summit Team comprised of three members of the Institute Steering Committee, a New York AARP Executive Council member and a Program Associate from the New York State Health Foundation.

Summit Teams hailed from 47 states and the District of Columbia. Information sharing between and among state teams, summit sponsors and speakers was invaluable and inspirational. At the summit all state teams were invited and encouraged to apply for a Technical Assistance Grant from the Center to Champion America in Nursing to assist the state teams in increasing nursing education capacity in their states.

The Institute Steering Committee and the New York State Summit Team submitted a proposal for technical assistance to develop an Empire State Nursing Education Capacity Consortium (ESNECC). The proposal was strongly supported by New York State Area Health Education Central System, New York AARP, The New York State Board for Nursing, The New York State Health Foundation, The New York State Nurses Association, The New York State Center for Health Workforce Studies, The New York Council of Directors of Associate Degree Nursing Programs, The New York State Council of Deans and Directors of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs, The New York Organization of Nurse Executives, The New York State Department of Labor, School of Nursing at the University at Buffalo The State Education Department Office of the Professions, and St. John Fischer College.

The proposal was approved in March 2009.
Initial Goals and Objectives of the Empire State Nursing Education Capacity Consortium:

1. Identify shareholders and supporters through asset mapping or similar process.
2. Inform and engage shareholders in work and goals of the Institute for Nursing for NYS and the ESNECC.
3. Marshall resources to sustain the work of the ESNECC.
a. Assess opportunities in NYS associated with federal economic stimulus package.
b. Communicate with and learn from other CCNA initiatives.
4. Explore funding opportunities with state and regional funding organizations and other partners.
5. Working in concert with shareholders:
a. Identify data sources;
b. Assess current capacity;
c. Identify barriers to increasing capacity;
d Identify innovative strategies and mechanisms for increasing capacity.
6. Working in concert with shareholders, develop a long-range action plan for sustaining adequate nursing education capacity.
7. Maintain coordination and oversight of action plan.

8. Communicate with and report to the sponsors as agreed, and develop evaluation strategies.

New York State Summit Team at All Country Summit 2009

  • Carol S. Brewer, PhD, RN is Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing at the University at Buffalo and Statewide Director of Nursing of the New York State System Area Health Education Center. She has developed an extensive research program focusing on nursing workforce supply and demand issues. Currently Dr. Brewer is Co-Principal Investigator of a Robert Wood Johnson funded ten year study of newly licensed Registered Nurses to track changes in their careers. Information about this research is available at
  • Robert F. O’Connell, MSW has 40 years experience in the aging field as an advocate for the development of positive health and social support systems for older persons and their caregivers. He has been involved in program development, policy planning, management, program monitoring and oversight for wide range of community-based support services. A social worker by training he has managed aging programs in the non-profit sector as well as at County, State and Federal Government levels. He is currently a Consultant on Aging and a member of the Executive council of AARP New York.
  • Mary Ellen Plass, MS, RN is senior Vice-President and Chief Nursing Officer at Albany Medical Center, Albany, NY. Ms. Plass has been a part of the Albany Medical Center family for more than 25 years, holding positions as Staff Nurse, Assistant Nurse Manager, Nurse Manager and Patient Care Service Director. In October of 2005 she began her current position as Chief Nursing Officer. Ms. Plass holds a Master’s Degree in Nursing Administration and serves on the board of the New York Organization of Nurse Executives and is co-chair of its Public Policy Committee.
  • Sara Timen, MPH, MS is a Program Associate with the New York State Health Foundation (NYSF). Ms. Timen is currently the staff liaison to a NYSF funded project to study nursing recruitment in seven rural New York counties. With a background in education and health policy, she previously worked on the nutrition policy team in the Cardiovascular Disease Department at the New York City Department of Health, was a Center for the Health of Urban Minorities fellow working at Columbia University’s Center for Community Health Partnerships and taught middle school math and science in Harlem.
  • Cathryne A. Welch, EdD, RN was the former Director, Institute for Nursing in New York State, a non-partisan entity, dedicated to ensuring an adequate supply of qualified nursing personnel in New York State. Dr. Welch previously served as Executive Director of the Foundation of NYS Nurses, Inc., the New York State Nurses Association, Nurses House and FNYSN.

The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers 

In February 2009 the Institute for Nursing was admitted to the Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers. The Forum, a national entity which admits only one nursing workforce from each state, provides a sustainable network for collaboration and cooperation among statewide nursing work force entities. Its slogan “Taking the Long View” reflects participating state centers’ common commitment to continuing, sustained, long-term effort to resolve the critical nursing shortage.

Carol Brewer and Cathryne Welch represented the Institute for Nursing at the March 2009 Forum annual Conference and Business Meeting. Dr. Brewer presented an overview of the investigation of newly licensed nurses which she and Dr. Kovner are conducting. Her presentation was very well received and generated lively discussion among attendees and Drs. Brewer and Kovner. At the business meeting, Drs. Brewer and Welch participated in review and critique of the Forum’s draft of the nurse supply, demand and education dataset drafts created as part of the Minimum Dataset Project, sponsored in part by AARP’s Center to Champion Nursing. This project is a significant effort to standardize nursing workforce data collection efforts across the nation.