Response to Editorial on Rutgers College of Nursing by Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Philip Furmanski

Response to Editorial on Rutgers College of Nursing
 by Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick and
 Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Philip Furmanski

 As submitted to The Home News Tribune; an edited version was published on
 March 31, 2004

Rutgers has a goal: to serve the citizens of our state and nation by creating the very best possible College of Nursing and providing the very best possible nurses. A recent editorial challenged our plans for achieving this goal and we disagree with its premise.

Nurses today are recognized health-care professionals who bring sophisticated, highly technical skills to their role within a health-care team. Their ability to function effectively relies firmly on both an understanding of the scientific basis underlying patient care and an ability to convert that understanding into best practices. Their education must provide them with the tools to keep up with a rapidly advancing profession. While most of our nurses will enter careers in clinical practice, some must also be given opportunities for advanced training so they can educate the next generation and contribute to the advancement of nursing knowledge through research.

To fulfill our mission, we must integrate nursing students into an intellectually dynamic community devoted to health-science activities, rather than isolate them from other health-care professionals. In New Brunswick, that integration is best accomplished downtown, where two top-rated hospitals, the nationally recognized New Jersey Cancer Institute, highly specialized facilities for treating children and women, as well as a cadre of practitioners who are among the best in the nation, are located.

A downtown site, which also will serve pharmacy students and clinically related research programs, has several important advantages. The location will expose students to the latest in scientific and health-care developments as practiced in the most advanced facilities and give them insights into how scientific discoveries are translated into new treatment. The site also will attract outstanding faculty eager to explore innovative ways of providing improved health care for the people of New Jersey and committed to mentoring the next generation of nurses. Finally, the city will afford superb opportunities for clinical placements, while still giving students the freedom to pursue educational opportunities at a variety of facilities both within and outside New Brunswick.

There has been some concern expressed that the proposed location of the school will make it difficult for nursing students to take full advantage of a Rutgers education. This is simply not so.

Nursing students, like all Rutgers students, will have the option to live in university housing, eat in Rutgers dining halls, and participate in all the university’s diverse cultural and intellectual activities. Many will live in the University Center at Easton Avenue, the university’s most popular dormitory, located at the edge of the College Avenue campus just a little over a block from the site of the new nursing building. This dormitory offers attractive apartment-style housing and easy access to student services. Nursing students also will take many of their basic science and liberal arts courses on our other campuses, sharing classrooms with other Rutgers students and integrating fully into campus life.

It is true that nursing students will find themselves traveling between campuses. In this, too, their experience will mirror that of other Rutgers students. Rutgers’ New Brunswick/Piscataway campus is spread across several municipalities, and our students routinely move from location to location to get the most from the full range of courses and programs offered at a major state university.

Students at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, for example, get much of their professional training at a downtown building in the heart of New Brunswick’s art and theater district, traveling there each day from various Rutgers campuses. Conversely, residents in College Hall, now under construction at George and New streets, will need to ride the university’s free bus system to get to their classes at various sites in the university. In all these cases, however, there are clear advantages to being in a thriving downtown location with access to academic, cultural and professional opportunities.

Rutgers is excited by this opportunity to provide a first-class professional education to its nursing students. The academic and intellectual advantages of placing a nursing school within a health-care complex are well recognized. It is why premier nursing schools such as Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland are located near teaching hospitals. It is how we will attract the very best nursing faculty to teach the very best students. And it is why Rutgers is committed to building a state-of-the-art facility for the College of Nursing in downtown New Brunswick. We believe our nursing students will benefit not just during their four years of college, but throughout their professional lives.

New Jersey, and much of the rest of the nation, faces a critical nursing shortage. The Rutgers College of Nursing is ready to meet this challenge. Our citizens deserve nothing less.