ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Amid major staffing shortages in the healthcare system, help is on the way for SUNY nursing programs in the form of over $1.4 million. It’s part of a “Nursing Emergency Training Fund” with the goal of increasing enrollment and filling out the healthcare workforce.

SUNY is announcing the second round of this money for 16 SUNY schools. The money comes from the state as part of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to increase the healthcare workforce by 20% percent in the next five years.

It’s great news for Kim Stote with the School of Nursing and Allied Health at SUNY Empire State College, one of the schools listed for funding.

“This will go directly to personnel services for faculty hiring, so this helps us expand the number of seats for students to become a bachelor’s trained registered nurse,” said Stote.

SUNY Brockport is also receiving funding. Kathy Peterson, Chair of Nursing for SUNY Brockport, said staffing shortages have been persistent for years in the healthcare industry.

“Bedside nurses are in great demand right now. Many of our area hospitals are using traveler nurses, which have been great to help out in this horrible shortness of nurse,” said Peterson. However, she added their rural region needs nurses at all levels: both registered nurses and primary care nurse practitioners.

Peterson said they plan to add half-time faculty members to increase enrollment and clinical placements at federally funded healthcare centers.

“And this is really meant to make sure that our students have clinicals in rural areas, and many are hired then in those rural areas to practice,” she said.

Peterson said four students were hired at the federally funded center in the last five years, but that number could be higher.

“There is a sense of urgency. We know that our patients in rural areas have greater health disparities than our patients in urban or suburban areas,” she said. “There’s more death from heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease.”

SUNY Brockport is receiving nearly $250,000 of the grant. The school said they’re also adding an additional track for those who want to become an adult geriatric nurse practitioner.