Submitted by Niagara University
Niagara University Receives $300,000 Grant to Grow & Strengthen Nursing Workforce
Niagara University has received a $300,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to continue and enhance work done by its College of Nursing to foster nurse resilience, effectively bridge the transition from student to health care professional, address a critical shortage in the nursing workforce, increase awareness of health inequities, and develop effective approaches to care in complex environments across Western New York, with an emphasis on Niagara County.
This new funding will be used to enhance the academic preparation of students and improve the quality of care across the lifespan, particularly for the most complex and vulnerable patients in health care settings, by the expanded use of virtual reality, telemedicine training, and other patient-care simulation educational experiences and game-training. These on-campus clinical experiences will enable students to develop sound critical thinking and clinical judgment skills.
The grant will also support the new position of resilience and resource officer, who will work with pre-service nursing and other allied health and related direct care-focused students, novice nurses, interdisciplinary care teams, practicing nurses, and other health care workers to develop the skills and tools necessary to reduce on-the-job stress and anxiety leading to burnout.
“Proper self-care practices are crucial for nurses in reducing their stress, renewing their ability to provide compassion and empathy, and improving the quality of care,” said Dr. Christine Verni, dean of the college. “Our resilience and resource officer will expand efforts to promote well-being by further developing critical thinking skills that make nurses more resilient when presented with stressors in the workplace, classroom, and/or clinical settings as they transition from the structured educational setting to a hospital or other clinical environment.”
Professional development opportunities will also be offered to nursing students, recent graduates, and other health care workers, particularly those early in their career and/or those in leadership positions.
The project builds upon the work started last year with funding from the Cabrini Foundation to enhance technology in the College of Nursing’s simulation and skills labs, develop expanded certifications to create new pathways to the nursing and allied health professions, and facilitate high-impact training for community health instructors.
“At a moment when New York state’s health needs are both acute and wide-ranging, the foundation is supporting hundreds of programs addressing the needs of vulnerable New Yorkers and underserved communities across the state. From building up our health care workforce and providing essential resources for immigrants and migrants, to investing in community-based providers that address chronic challenges from mental health to food insecurity, funding this year will again offer much-needed support to underserved communities,” said Alfred F. Kelly, Jr., executive chairman of Visa and chair of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation board.
Niagara’s College of Nursing offers a four-year Bachelor of Science degree and an accelerated B.S. in nursing, both of which are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The college also maintains a state-of-the-art Nursing Simulation Center, which provides hands-on opportunities for students while supporting traditional classroom learning and clinical practice experiences, and a skills lab.
The college has long-standing relationships with regional health care partners, including Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, and Kaleida Health, who train students and hire graduates into nursing roles upon program completion.
NU Receives $200,000 Grant to Expand Disability Awareness Training to Erie County Probation Officers
Niagara University has received a $200,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to expand its specialized training in the area of disabilities and substance use disorder to the Erie County Probation department. The training will increase disability and substance use knowledge and awareness among probation officers, improving probationer health care and health care-related services and potentially reducing recidivism among probation clients with complex needs. Last year, a $150,000 Cabrini grant funded this customized training for the Niagara County Probation Department.
“Everyone needs disability awareness training,” said David V. Whalen, project director of Niagara University’s First Responder Disability Awareness Training. “This grant will enable NU FRDAT to extend its customized training to probation staff at the Erie County Probation Department to better prepare them to recognize, identify, approach, interact and respond to their probationers with disabilities and substance use disorder.”
Previous research conducted by faculty in Niagara University’s department of criminology and criminal justice indicated that probationers who have mental health and substance use issues that are not properly addressed are more likely to have their probation revoked or to be incarcerated. Without proper training, probation officers are often unable to identify specific needs when they are not disclosed by probationers; consequently, mental health issues often go unnoticed.
NU FRDAT, in partnership with the ECPD and community organizations including Community Services for Every1 ATI (Alternatives to Incarceration), WNY Independent Living Center, Spectrum Services, and Person Center Services, will develop and provide training grounded in the NU Recognize-Identify-Approach-Interact-Respond (RIAIR) model for all ECPD personnel. The training will educate the staff on recognizing disability indicators/characteristics; equip them with the knowledge needed to identify specific disabilities; and provide guidance on appropriate responses, such as utilizing community resources and support services.
This new program will expand NU FRDAT’s current offerings, which include customized training to law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, and 911 telecommunicators, as well as training for emergency management personnel, both on site and in virtual formats. It was created in cooperation with all major first responder associations, councils and state offices, and designed to give first responders the knowledge necessary to best serve and respond to individuals with disabilities. In 2020, NU FRDAT was invited to work with CSE1 and the Family Justice Center to develop and provide training for disability organizations, domestic violence agencies, and legal and law enforcement entities in Western New York to help them better assist people diagnosed with intellectual/developmental disabilities who have experienced domestic violence.
About The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation
The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of vulnerable communities, eliminate barriers to care, and bridge gaps in health services. Named after a tireless advocate for immigrants, children and the poor, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation funds programs and initiatives across New York state that either provide direct health care services or address the social determinants of health. For more information, visit https://www.cabrinihealth.org/.
About Niagara University
Founded by the Vincentian community in 1856, Niagara University is a comprehensive institution, blending the best of a liberal arts and professional education, grounded in our values-based Catholic tradition. Its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management, and Nursing offer programs at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral level.
As the first Vincentian university established in the United States, Niagara prepares students for personal and professional success while emphasizing service to the community in honor of St. Vincent de Paul. Niagara’s institutional commitment to service-learning has led to its inclusion on the President’s Honor Roll for Community Service every year since its inception in 2006, and its recognition with the Carnegie Foundation’s Classification for Community Engagement.