NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Dozens of Bronx nurses set to graduate this month from a special program have just learned they can no longer become certified, after their school's accreditation was yanked.
Jeidy Vazquez and Amina Emanuel told CBS2's Ali Bauman they are critical care nurses at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
"It has been devastating to each and every one of us," Emanuel said.
"I work full time and on top of that we completed over 500 hours of clinical time with direct patient care," Vazquez added.
While working at the hospital for the past three years, they've also been working towards masters degrees at the Lehman College's Family Nurse Practitioner -- or FNP -- program.
"Family nurse practitioners can assess. They can diagnose patients. They can prescribe," Vazquez said.
"We're here studying to complete this program and simultaneously have to do clinical hours and here it has been thrusted on us that we may not sit for the very exam that's gonna allow us to continue to serve our community as providers," Emanuel said.
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At the end of November, Lehman College emailed all 200 students in the FNP school, informing them its accreditation has been withdrawn by the National Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, because last year's exam pass rate "fell below the required 80%."
"The day I read that email I broke down into tears, because I could not understand how they could be so cruel," Vazquez said.
They are two of 45 FNP students graduating from Lehman College this month who will not be allowed to take their certification exam.
"So, technically, I would be graduating with a degree that I wouldn't be able to practice in," Vazquez said.
"The fact we are so close to becoming board certified FNPs in the middle of a pandemic, where there's already a shortage of experienced health care professionals, would be almost like robbing our society of the services that they need," Emanuel said.
A Lehman College spokesmen told CBS2 in a statement, "We continue to believe a good cause extension should be granted so that our students ... can sit for the national exam and proceed in their new role as FNPs."
"All we're asking for is the opportunity to test," Emanuel said.
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Lehman College said its program is accredited by the state, so it is asking a different certifying organization if that could be enough to qualify students to still sit for the exam. College administrators hope to get that answer next week.
Bauman reached out to the national accreditation organization, but did not immediately hear back.
The students have set up a GoFundMe page to help them with legal expenses during this difficult time. If you are interested in assisting them, please click here.
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