Bronx nursing program named No. 1 in New York State

Bronx Community College Licensed Practical Nursing students Kristina Cuesta, Jaswanti Dhanraj, Kesha Coard and Carmen Bravo train with a pediatric dummy.
Photo by Edwin Soto

They’re number one.

Bronx Community College’s Licensed Practical Nursing program was recently named best in the state by, with 100 percent of students passing their licensing exams.

But program director Ellen Hoist says that’s nothing new. Since the program was founded in 1991, only three classes have not had a 100 percent passing rate.

But Hoist, who has directed the program from its beginning, was still pleased with the recognition.

“It’s a very high honor,” she said.

Second career

Licensed Practical Nurses, or LPNs, perform many of the same functions as Registered Nurses but are required to work under the supervision of RNs or physicians, said Hoist.

Most of her students are training for their second career, and many are immigrants, she noted. The classes are held exclusively at night and weekends so students can juggle school and work.

“It makes it quite challenging for them,” she said.

But Hoist said the dedication and motivation of her students is a major factor in the success of the program.

“They make tremendous sacrifices in their lives in order to be successful,” she said.

Jacqueline Bowman, a student in the program, said she has struggled at times to juggle the program with work. But she said it’s worth it to pursue her goal of being a nurse, a path she started on before she emigrated from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines years ago.

“The professors are really supportive,” said Bowman. “It’s a great program.”

Desi Ruiz is also pursuing a second career. After working in finance for 20 years, he is pursuing his goal of becoming a health practitioner so he can provide medical services back in Honduras. He said BCC’s program is tough but prepares the students well.

“The teachers are trying to help those that really feel this is their dream,” he said.

Career opportunities

There are career opportunities awaiting students after graduation, said Hoist, especially because the population is aging and the health care sector continues to grow.

Health care has been one of the largest sectors in the Bronx for some time, and as the sector continues to grow, so does the need for LPNs.

The Department of Labor projects a 13.2 percent growth in LPN positions across the city between 2010 and 2020, with an average of 180 new LPN positions created each year.

“I’m happy to be able to graduate nurses who are competent and can fill those work place needs,” said Hoist.

Hoist said her students graduate the 18-month program with a certificate, but they can continue course work to receive an associates degree. They could also go on to BCC’s registered nurse program and complete it in a additional year. analyzed 5 years of exam scores from 77 schools across N.Y. to determine the rankings.

Monroe College in the Bronx also placed in the top 10 on the list, with about 92 percent passing rate.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at

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