Chancellor Johnson Announces Partnership that Provides Students at SUNY Old Westbury with Healthcare Degrees from Downstate Medical Center

April 5, 2019

First-of-its-kind agreement promises to expand state’s healthcare workforce and train more physician assistants, physical therapists, and nurses

Downstate will seek similar partnerships with other SUNY campuses

Albany – 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.

About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is the borough’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

About SUNY Old Westbury

SUNY Old Westbury is a selective public liberal arts college with more than 5,000 students studying in more than 45 undergraduate degree opportunities in its liberal arts and professional programs and 21 graduate programs in business, education, liberal studies and mental health counseling.  On the College’s 604-acre campus, students are challenged to take ownership of their futures through an environment that demands academic excellence, fosters intercultural understanding, and endeavors to stimulate a passion for learning and a commitment to building a more just and sustainable world. For more information on SUNY Old Westbury,

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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