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Local support provides big boost for nurses at PBMC

Saira Qureshi, a nurse at Peconic Bay Medical Center, was transporting a patient to recovery after a procedure when she received an email with some news she couldn’t believe.

“I was in a state of shock,” Ms. Qureshi said. “I screenshotted the email and texted it to one of the educators, who is one of my good friends, and I was like ‘Is this for real? Am I supposed to be happy about this?’ ”

The email notified Ms. Qureshi that she had been chosen as one of seven recipients of a grant from PBMC’s Nursing Education Fund, supported by the Mattituck Lions Club.

The fund, created in 2016, offers a series of academic grants to PBMC nurses, to be used toward any expenses related to continuing education — from technology and books to tuition and certification costs— according to a press release from the hospital.

PBMC recently announced the receipt of $50,000 from the Mattituck Lions Club to support the fund.

“This gesture toward the nursing staff really helps keep nurses in the profession and here in Peconic Bay Medical Center, where we really need them and appreciate them,” said PBMC chief nursing officer Christine Kippley.

Since 2016, about 30 individuals have received grants from the fund, according to Ms. Kippley. The program, she said, has allowed PBMC increase the percentage of nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from 38% to over 70%, she said.

“We want to provide the highest level of care that we can here in this community,” Ms. Kippley said. “This fund will help us get there by helping provide a higher level of education for the nurses here.” 

Over the past 20 years the Mattituck Lions have been a strong supporter of PBMC, committing over $190,000 to the hospital, according to the press release.

Ms. Qureshi’s journey toward her career goals hasn’t been easy. She came to the United States from Pakistan 22 years ago with only a high school education. She credits her husband for supporting her to continue her education and get her bachelor’s degree. 

She started thinking about getting her master’s degree when the pandemic hit, and she saw how hard it was for both the hospital’s nurse educators and for new nurses that were coming in straight from graduation. 

Ms. Qureshi said she is grateful for all the support she’s received both from her job and her family as she pursues her master’s degree.

“I’m blessed on both sides of my life — my work life and my personal life,” she said. “I can’t say it enough.”

Ms. Qureshi said she will use the funds toward her tuition at SUNY/Empire State College, where she is a candidate for a master’s degree in nursing education. She expects to graduate next December.

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