SBS, LaGuardia CC, And Lehman College Welcome New Nurse Trainees

February 21, 2024

Today, the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), LaGuardia Community College, and Lehman College celebrated.

They celebrated the start of SBS’s 2024 National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) for English Language Learners (ELL) Training Program. Open to New York City residents with nursing-equivalent degrees from countries outside the United States who are currently earning less than $40,000 per year, this program helps internationally trained nurses with the essential skills and knowledge needed to successfully pass the NCLEX-RN exam, obtain nursing licensure in New York State, and secure positions in hospitals and clinics across the city. As of 2024, nurses who complete the SBS NCLEX-RN ELL training program and subsequently pass the exam can expect to more than double their pre-license income, with average salaries exceeding $100,000.

Following the blueprint laid out in Mayor Adams’s Working People’s Agenda, the administration has committed over $2.9 million to the NCLEX-RN ELL training program since 2022, delivering tangible results on the promise of supporting 30,000 current and aspiring nurses over the next five years.

“This program is a perfect reflection of our administration’s vision for a city that meets the needs of working New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “Immigrants are the backbone of our city, our neighborhoods, and our economy. Through the NCLEX-RN program, we are promoting career advancement and wealth-building opportunities for a new generation of immigrant New Yorkers while also meeting demand for one of the fastest growing occupations in the city.”

“This program addresses a critical public heath need by expanding our nursing workforce and enhances shared prosperity by enabling immigrant nurses to fulfill their dreams and practice nursing again, one of New York City’s highest paying and in-demand careers,” said Abby Jo Sigal, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development. “Our office’s healthcare industry partnership is working with SBS, CUNY, and other public and private sector partners to build stronger nursing talent pipelines and connect more New Yorkers to these family-sustaining jobs. This program is just one of many that are part of a comprehensive workforce strategy to ensure employers across the healthcare sector have access to the talent they need to care for generations of future New Yorkers and that New Yorkers themselves have access to these careers.”

Coming at a time when hospitals are facing shortages of nurses and critical support staff, the NCLEX-RN ELL training program facilitates the entry of qualified New Yorkers into of one of NYC’s fastest-growing industries while promoting job retention and opportunities for career advancement. The SBS Workforce1 Healthcare Career Center works with the city’s healthcare industry partnership within the Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development, the New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (NYACH), to offer no-cost training programs that prepare New Yorkers for jobs in healthcare. According to NYS Department of Labor (NYSDOL) data, pre-pandemic trends suggested New York City’s more than 75,000 registered nurses were set to grow by 24% over the next decade, nearly triple the profession’s projected 9% growth rate nationwide.

These no-cost programs feature English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) bridge courses, and both hybrid and online- and- in-person programming. The program pays for the first NCLEX-RN exam fee, and participants receive free textbooks and test prep software. LaGuardia Community College offers evening courses on a part-time basis, while Lehman College offers courses through a full-time program in mornings and afternoons. Both programs are currently accepting applications on a rolling basis. The upcoming cohort at Lehman College is set to commence on March 28, 2024. Meanwhile, the training cohort at LaGuardia Community College started on January 29, 2024.

The passage of the NCLEX-RN exam holds immense significance for immigrant nurses seeking to practice in the city, as it significantly enhances their earning potential. Those who successfully pass the exam may earn upwards of $100,000, a substantial increase from the pre-licensure average of less than $40,000 annually. Graduates from these programs often receive job offers from prominent hospitals in New York City, where the current demand for registered nurses exceeds 4,000 openings. The training programs not only pave the way for successful careers but also empower nurses to generate wealth and elevate their livelihoods in the dynamic environment of NYC.

Both LaGuardia Community College and Lehman College host NCLEX-RN training programs funded by the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), which extends logistical support through its 18 NYC Workforce1 Career Centers. These colleges consistently achieve success in launching the careers of internationally licensed immigrant nurses in New York City.

Candidates for the training program must meet the following requirements in order to apply:

  • Have a nursing equivalent degree from a country outside of the United States
  • Read at an intermediate-to-advanced level in English.
  • Be an English language learner.
  • Have the authorization to work inside the United States.
  • Be a full-time resident of New York City.
  • Earn less than $40,000 a year.
  • Be authorized to test for the NCLEX-RN exam or have recently applied to CGFNS International and the NYS Education Department.

For those interested in LaGuardia Community College’s part-time, evening courses, applications can be submitted here. Similarly, those interested in Lehman College’s full-time, morning/afternoon courses can apply here. Both colleges accept applications on a rolling basis.

“We are grateful for NYC Small Business Services’ support, which enables us to help internationally trained nurses prepare for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam, at no cost to them. This is the 10th year of the program at LaGuardia, which has helped 355 individuals become Registered Nurses in New York since 2014,” said Sunil B. Gupta, Vice President, Adult Continuing Education and Workforce Development, LaGuardia Community College. “When program graduates begin working as RNs, many go from minimum wage jobs to making close to six figures — enabling them to build better lives for themselves and their families.”

“I applaud our students for reaching such an important milestone in their careers and becoming part of the trained medical professionals who ensure New York City’s health and well-being,” said Lehman College Interim Provost Jorge Silva-Puras. “In the face of a nursing shortage, this program addresses the critical need for quality nurses and fosters a culturally connected healthcare environment, resulting in personalized and empathetic patient-centered care.”

“This program was life changing for me and my family,” said Minia Esperanza de Ponce, 2023 program graduate, Lehman College. “Now I have job stability and I have a good salary, which gives me financial independence and allows me to build a strong economic foundation for my family. Nursing is a profession that is in high demand today: by rejoining my chosen profession, I am returning to a field that is highly respected and valued. It also allows me to strengthen my skills and continue to learn and advance my career.”

“The NCLEX-RN for English Language Learners program at LaGuardia Community College helped make my dreams come true,” said Hate Beqa, RN. “Before moving to New York City in 2019, I worked for nine years as an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse in my home country, Albania. Given my experience in nursing, I thought I could pass the NCLEX-RN on my own. I tried twice but didn’t pass. Then a friend told me about LaGuardia’s program and that it was free. Not only did the program help improve my English, but it made me feel well-prepared for the NCLEX-RN, which I took again and passed in 2023. As a result, I immediately got promoted from patient care technician to RN at Maimonides Medical Center.”

LaGuardia Community College

LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, located in Long Island City, Queens offers more than 50 degrees and certificates, and more than 65 continuing education programs to educate New Yorkers seeking new skills and careers. As an institution of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his advocacy of underserved populations. Since 1971, LaGuardia’s academic programs and support services have advanced the socioeconomic mobility of students while providing them with access to a high quality, affordable college education.

Lehman College

Lehman College is the City University of New York’s only four-year college in the Bronx, serving the borough and surrounding region as an intellectual, economic, and cultural center. Lehman provides undergraduate and graduate studies in the liberal arts and sciences and professional education within a dynamic research environment. With a diverse student body of more than 14,000 students and more than 81,000 alumni, Lehman offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs. Ranked as having the fourth highest mobility rate in the nation by the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Equality of Opportunity Project, Lehman is a proud catalyst for economic and social mobility for its students, almost half of whom are first generation college students.

The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) 

SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs.

For more information on all SBS services, go to, call 311.

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