Bergen Community College together with Bergen New Bridge Medical Center have taken significant steps in recent years to develop new, meaningful connections that provide additional clinical learning opportunities, employment pathways and joint initiatives to improve the quality of life in Bergen County.
“As president, I have sought to nurture partnerships in the community that benefit our students and the county at large,” Eric Friedman, president, Bergen Community College, said. “One of the most important partnerships is found within our relationship with Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.”
“The relationship between Bergen New Bridge and the college is symbiotic,” Deborah Visconi, CEO and president, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, said. “There’s a direct pipeline between us that’s equally beneficial and rewarding.”
The college is ranked No. 1 for associate degree graduates in New Jersey, and the medical center is the largest hospital in the state and one of the largest employers in Bergen County. Both have a deep connection with the county and its leaders, who regard them as central to the county’s mission.
BCC launched its health professions programs more than 50 years ago and, over that time, the two institutions have partnered with one another. In 2017, the hospital became a not-for-profit health care organization and was reborn as Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, which ushered in a new chapter era of collaboration with BCC.
“This incredible pair of organizations offer high-quality higher education and health care for the nearly 1 million residents of Bergen County,” James Tedesco, Bergen County executive, said. “I am proud of the opportunities they offer our residents and thrilled by their cooperation in support of a common goal.”
Throughout the last decade, hundreds of students in BCC’s health professions programs — including nursing, radiography and diagnostic medical sonography — have completed clinical rotations at the medical center, with many accepting full-time employment offers upon graduation.
The organizations have partnered to create programs that address critical needs in Bergen County. In response to the statewide shortage of certified nursing assistants, BCC and Bergen New Bridge established a tuition-free Certified Nursing Assistant training program for hospital employees five years ago. CNA students complete a 90-hour course led by BCC faculty in a learning center located on the medical center’s campus. Upon graduation and earning a passing grade on the certification exam, graduates are employed in the long-term care division at the medical center.
In addition to the CNA program, full-time Bergen New Bridge employees receive a 50% tuition reduction for degree and certificate programs at BCC.
“I am deeply committed to furthering the growth and education of our workforce,” Visconi said. “I believe it is our responsibility to educate future health care providers and leaders for our community and state.”
“I’m not aware of another community college and medical center that share such a similar definable mission,” Friedman said. “It’s a unique partnership that transforms lives and has endless possibilities.”