NEW YORK NURSE: April 2011
By Alison Munday
Bob Donaldson, a nurse practitioner, was recently elected medical staff president of Ellenville Regional Hospital, Ellenville, New York. In his new role, Donaldson will serve as chairman of the medical executive committee and as the direct medical link to the board of trustees. The election is particularly notable because the office of medical staff president is traditionally held by a physician. Donaldson is the first NP to be elected to the job in the hospital’s history.
This is not the first time Donaldson has changed how things are traditionally done. In 2004 he joined the Ellenville Regional Hospital staff, becoming the first full-time NP admitting provider in the ER, alongside an all-physician team. “I was the first stand alone NP in the hospital,” he said. “Over the years, members of the medical staff came to appreciate how their patients had been evaluated and treated by me in the ER, and presented for admission.”
In 2008, he received an invitation to serve on the team that reviews and revises medical staff bylaws. Later, the medical staff and physicians voted to give NPs the same privileges as physicians at the facility and within the medical team. When the vacancy for medical staff president opened up, Donaldson volunteered, and was elected. “I look at that like anything else NPs have done—there’s a void, we step in and do the job.”
Donaldson’s route to nursing was also a bit unusual. After sixteen successful, but less-than fulfilling years as an operations manager with a transportation company, in 1973, Donaldson took a risk and changed gears. He enrolled at The Columbia Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Hudson, in an associate’s degree-granting, three-year, hospital-based program. He earned his degree, learned the ropes, and climbed the clinical ladder as far as he could.
In 1988, he returned to school, combining course work from many years earlier to complete his bachelor’s degree in eighteen months. During that time, he spoke with a professor who worked as a nurse practitioner in New York City, and recalls, “I wasn’t familiar with that nursing entity at all. Within a short time of listening, I was hooked. I started at Pace University the very next semester, and graduated in 1993 as a Family Nurse Practitioner.”