First-of-its-kind agreement with SUNY Downstate Medical Center creates pathways for students to careers in healthcare

Dr. Cadet in research lab with student

State University of New York Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson today announced a first-of-its kind partnership between SUNY Downstate Medical Center and SUNY Old Westbury that will offer eligible students the opportunity to pursue graduate and accelerated degrees in preparation for careers as physician assistants, physical therapists, and nurses. The partnership is the first within the SUNY system by Downstate, which intends to establish more agreements with other campuses.

“At a time when our nation’s healthcare needs are becoming increasingly complex, these campuses are working together to build up our healthcare workforce and provide more opportunities to our students,” said Chancellor Johnson. “I look forward to seeing more partnerships between Downstate Medical and our other campuses, and to SUNY’s growing role in strengthening the state’s healthcare system.”

“Developing pathways like these for our students is of critical importance so they can access these important opportunities in the medical field,” said SUNY Old Westbury President Calvin O. Butts, III. “The number of opportunities available may not be large, but we believe having this relationship will provide an incentive to those students who have a true passion and inclination for these fields. The education provided by Downstate is excellent, and we look forward to seeing our students excel once they enter these programs.”

“As one of the top nursing programs in New York State, this is a fitting partnership for SUNY Downstate and Old Westbury,” said SUNY Downstate President Wayne J. Riley, M.D. “Our nursing program is known for training tomorrow’s workforce, and we are excited that this collaboration with Old Westbury will enhance our collective commitment to educational excellence while preparing our nurses to meet the healthcare challenges of a changing population.”

Under the agreement, up to 23 Old Westbury students who meet the admissions standards and deadlines will be given priority enrollment consideration at SUNY Downstate each year. A maximum of four students will be accepted into Downstate’s Bachelor of Science/Doctorate of Physical Therapy (BS/DPT), and up to four students will be accepted into the Master of Science Physician Assistant program. Both programs are offered by the College of Health Related Professions. A maximum of 15 students will be accepted in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program offered by the College of Nursing.  

Eligibility requirements vary by program, with each requiring Old Westbury students to complete classes in biology, chemistry, psychology and other arts and sciences disciplines as appropriate. For the Physician Assistant and Nursing degree programs, students must have an undergraduate degree from Old Westbury before applying to SUNY Downstate.  All Old Westbury students must also obtain a recommendation from the College’s Health Professions Advisory Committee.

These new partnerships bode well for New York’s healthcare workforce. Data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) shows that SUNY educates 15 percent of New York State’s DPT graduates;10 percent of the State’s master’s-level Physician Assistant graduates; and more than a third of all registered nurses in New York. And according to the SUNY Institutional Research Dashboard, 70 percent of SUNY’s DPT graduates are working in New York two years later, while 66 percent of SUNY’s master’s level physician assistants and 90 percent of nurses with bachelor degrees remain in New York.

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is the Brooklyn's only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 376-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to University Hospital, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Health-Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit

Photo:  Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Patrick Cadet works with a student-researcher in the lab of the SUNY Neuroscience Research Institute at SUNY Old Westbury.