Baldwin Nursing Program, School of Science

A funding request for new nursing education equipment at Siena has been submitted to the U.S. House budget by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20). On June 6, he visited the College’s Baldwin Nursing suite to meet with staff and students about the expanding program and its mission-centered goal to educate more nurses for underserved areas in the Capital Region. 

Siena's $496,541 Community Project Funding application was recently selected as one of 15 nonprofit community development projects across New York’s 20th Congressional District to be submitted to the House Committee on Appropriations. If approved by the House and Senate this fall, the funding will pay for new equipment to be installed in the soon-to-be expanded science complex. 

“We are very grateful that Congressman Tonko chose Siena’s Baldwin Nursing Program for funding consideration from the federal government,” said program creator Lisa Lally, D.N.S., director of nursing and associate professor. “If approved, this funding will give us the ability to outfit and expand the College’s nursing department, which ultimately will lead to an increase in the numbers of nursing students we can admit. Having the capacity and tools necessary to educate compassionate, skilled bachelor’s prepared nurses is critical as we face the ongoing nursing and nurse educator shortage.” 

Department Chair Jenna Thate, Ph.D., associate professor, noted that nurses who are competent clinicians also understand that the health of an individual or community goes far beyond what may be addressed in a brief medical encounter. 

“Nurses who provide holistic care that goes beyond the physical and includes the social and spiritual well-being of individuals, and the health care systems in which they serve, are critical to the health of the communities in our region. Being selected for this funding to help outfit our new space would increase our capacity to prepare nurses in the Siena way, contributing to this aim. Congressman Tonko seems to understand the real need for investment in educating compassionate nurses with a holistic approach, as we do with our caring science curriculum, and in doing so, the potential to impact our communities in need.” 

Siena received word on Tuesday that the funding request has been submitted to the U.S. Senate budget by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Natasha Nugent ’23 and George Pounds ‘23, both enrolled in the dual degree nursing program, provided Tonko with the student perspective on how nurses are educated at Siena.

“Something that we do appreciate about Siena and the Baldwin program is the focus on holistic care of patients, and how to care for ourselves as nurses,” said Nugent. “I think what COVID has taught us is that it’s important to fill your own cup before you can fill the cups of others. That’s something we’re really focusing on so that when we do go into this field, we don’t experience burnout. We develop that foundation so we can better take care of ourselves and better take care of our future patients.”

Pounds said meeting with Congressman Tonko affirmed how essential it is “to feel seen and heard by your elected official.”

“The funding for the equipment for our nursing program is needed. Science and medicine are constantly changing, and it’s important to stay up to date with the latest equipment so we are better prepared to work in the field,” he said. “Siena prepares amazing nurses who are culturally competent and caring - the opportunity for new equipment will only enhance the education the nursing students receive here.”

Tonko listened to the students and staff and toured the nursing suite to learn more about the class content and goals of Siena’s nursing program. 

“If we’re going to make the mission of quality, affordable, accessible health care a reality, it begins and ends with the pipeline of workers well-trained with the strength and skills of their career choice, but also with the embracing of social and human values that make them the caring and devoted crew that is essential to quality care,” Tonko said. “Siena is a premier institution in this regard. I was thrilled to learn about the program’s needs so that I can best defend this funding request before the Appropriations Committee in the House. I think it’s a great opportunity to invest in our future workforce that provides not only the skill competence but that bedside manner, that patient-nurse relationship, which will be deepened by the values embraced by this campus in a way that provides that human touch and a healing touch.”

The list of equipment in the budget request includes an anatomage cadaver table, diagnostic wall systems, vital signs monitors, home health labs and other implements needed to give nursing students hands-on experience in patient treatment. 

Siena President Chris Gibson ’86, Ph.D. acknowledged Tonko’s support and leadership on the budget request.

“We want the folks of the Capital Region to know that we are very aware of the shortages of nurses and in general the need for more preparation in the caring sciences. That’s where Siena is moving. Congressman Tonko is now a key partner in helping us do that.”

  Spectrum News 1 and WAMC covered the visit.