Joseph A. Ruffolo, president and CEO of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, and the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, signed an agreement Wednesday calls for Niagara to conduct credit-bearing courses at the medical center to enable registered nurses enrolled as students to earn a B.S. in nursing degree.

Niagara University and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center today announced a new partnership that will improve educational opportunities for registered nurses and profoundly impact the future of nursing education, downtown revitalization and regional job creation.

The agreement was announced by Niagara University’s president, the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., and Memorial President & CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo. It calls for Niagara to conduct credit courses at the medical center to enable registered nurses enrolled as students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

In addition to the nursing classes hosted by the hospital, classes will be made available on Niagara’s campus for both Memorial employees and non-employees who enroll in the program. An initial cohort of 15-30 students will begin studies at Memorial during the upcoming fall semester.

“We consider it of paramount importance to construct and develop dynamic partnerships with the people and communities of Niagara Falls, and this newest component of our partnership with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center will further enhance Western New York’s standing as a national leader in the health and life sciences,” Father Maher said.

Father Maher added that the deepening of the partnership reemphasizes the commitment from both organizations to facilitate the social and economic development of Niagara Falls, and illustrates a concrete way that NU and Memorial are working together to revitalize the city.

“Leveraging our resources to provide nurses with the most advanced learning tools is consistent with our Catholic and Vincentian mission to educate men and women who are dedicated to serving people in need,” he said. “Nurses are people who, in the words of Pope Francis, ‘seek to live in God’s compassionate mercy each and every day.’ ”

The initiative will address a nursing deficit the United States has been dealing with for decades, Ruffolo said.

“An aging population and the rising incidence of chronic disease has made the need for nurses greater than ever. Unfortunately, the combination of nurse retirements with the limited capacity of the nation’s nursing schools has put the shortage of nurses on the cusp of becoming a crisis,’’ he said.  “This educational partnership with Niagara University will address the nursing deficit in a meaningful way. And by combining academic study with the type of practical learning experiences we can offer in areas such as population health outreach, cardiac and stroke care, care coordination and primary care we know our BSN graduates will have a bedrock education upon which they can build a rewarding career.”

Niagara University will provide faculty members to teach the program’s courses and will work with the medical center to identify opportunities for case studies, research projects, guest speakers and other resources to enhance students’ learning experiences.

It’s a combination that will benefit not only the university and the medical center but the entire region, Ruffolo said.

The new program is especially timely in light of a measure signed into law last December by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“While there are several routes to becoming a registered nurse, a bachelor’s degree is the preferred degree by employers,” said Dr. Fran Crosby, director of Niagara University’s School of Nursing. “New York state recently passed the ‘B.S. in 10’ legislation, which requires new associate degree-prepared nurses to complete their B.S. within 10 years of graduation. At Niagara University, we provide the upper-level nursing courses to enable associate degree working nurses, who often have family responsibilities as well, to obtain their B.S. in our RN-to-B.S. nursing completion program. These nurses bring tremendous experience, examples, compassion and enthusiasm to their studies. We are just delighted to partner with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to support cohorts of nurses as they complete their B.S. in nursing with NU. This truly is a win-win-win.”

To learn more about Niagara University's nursing programs, please visit

Your Thoughts