News Sen. Oberacker Offers Insights on Regional Nursing Industry With Hartwick “Rock Stars”

January 12, 2023

New York State Senator Peter Oberacker (R) of the 51st district today joined two classes of Hartwick College nursing students and their faculty for a discussion on the state of the industry. The senator’s visit was his second in two years, and the first to combine students from the “Rural Health Nursing” and “Transition to Professional Practice: Health Policy” classes. It also continued the College’s annual tradition of hosting the area’s state senator each January for a visit with nursing students.

The opportunity to listen to and interact with the senator “is important for our students to understand they have a voice, and why they need to use it,” said Nursing Department Chair Pat Grust. Also, learning first-hand about the legal and regulatory issues affecting their industry is as important as the skills the nurses will develop in the classroom or the lab, she said.

President Darren Reisberg offered introductory remarks in support of the simulation bill introduced in the NY State Senate (S447), and the importance of public service in our world today.

Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Lisa Depperman then introduced Oberacker, who then spent an hour and a half speaking about nursing issues in his district and answered questions from the roughly 90 aspiring healthcare “rock stars who keep rural areas safe” before him in Anderson Theatre.

After briefly discussing his background (he is also an EMT), and why he has a specific interest in supporting the industry in the region, he discussed his concerns and goals for affecting change during his term. Telehealth/telemedicine, mental healthcare, and school-based health centers are his top healthcare issues, he said, before shifting to a discussion of what should happen with state budget funding to address these areas.

During the Q&A session, students offered thoughtful and curious questions, covering a wide range of issues. Support for simulation lab training (he was “majorly impressed” with Hartwick’s facilities); staffing shortages; the current nursing strike at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City; and multi-state licensure requirements were among the topics put to the senator.

As his time allotment came and went, he welcomed the students to come to his office to discuss these issues further, making it clear he has a vested interest in seeing the next classes of Hartwick nursing student “warriors” succeed.