Ismael Climaco is officially out of poverty. Mr. Climaco’s salary tripled from $13,000 a year to $40,000 after successfully graduating from HHC’s Nursing Career Ladder program which trains and certifies students as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) in less than one year.
The program not only responds to the nursing shortage, but it also proved to be a successful anti-poverty initiative sponsored by Mayor Bloomberg and the City’s Center for Economic Opportunity. Last month, the mayor announced that LPN training program is among eleven of the Center's initiatives that have demonstrated significant outcomes.
“Now we have some leeway. If the children want to go out to see a ballgame, we can afford that. But, not too often. The tickets are expensive,” said Climaco, who now works full time as an LPN at Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility.
When participants begin the career ladder program they are earning not more than 130 percent of the federal poverty line, but by the time they graduate, they earn $40,300. The program graduates licensed practical nurses in 11 months, compared to the traditional programs that take two years, and offers intensive instruction, extensive clinical practice, and personalized support to achieve very high retention and completion rates. In its first year, all 39 participants successfully completed the program and 77 percent passed the New York State licensing exam. The second class of 39 students will graduate on June 25.
"Poverty is one of the most complicated issues our nation faces and we cannot continue to do the same old things in the same failed ways if we truly want to break cycles of intergenerational poverty over the long term," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We've got to be bold in trying new approaches, unafraid to test them and then discard those that don't do the job.”
The $10 million Nurse Career Ladder initiative, a collaboration with the Center, the NYC Office of Adult and Continuing Education and the Long Island University School of Nursing, was designed to provide scholarships for 400 low income New Yorkers to be trained as LPNs or Registered Nurses. Graduates are guaranteed a job at HHC.
Each year up to 40 low income New Yorkers are enrolled in the Licensed Practical Nurse program, and up to 30 are enrolled in the Registered Nurse/BSN program. The first class of students in the RN program have completed their first two years of educational requirements, and will start their clinical training at Kings County Hospital Center this September. "It's a great program and we want to get the word out to more New Yorkers who could benefit from it," said La'Shawn Williams, Program Director for HHC.
New Yorkers who want to know more about the nursing scholarship program and are interested in applying can call 212-442-3768.