Barbara Zittel, PhD, RN
Dr. Zittel possesses an exemplary commitment to the nursing profession and an extraordinary ability to promote collaborative action. Consequently, she has laid the cornerstone of a visionary initiative that, when enacted, will change the profession and fundamentally enhance public health and welfare in New York.
Dr. Zittel began her career as an Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit nurse at Samaritan Hospital in Troy, New York, followed by positions as a faculty and coordinator of staff development. Her career in nursing advocacy began in the early 1980s, when she became the associate director of Nursing Education for the New York State Nurses Association, fostering a professional image of nursing among public policy officials to lay the foundation for future work to champion nursing.
She moved to the New York State Education Department in the 1990s, establishing herself as the executive secretary to the New York State Board of Nursing by 2000. During her 20 years with the New York State Education Department, she set a record for facilitating nurse organizations, helping them develop and advocate for joint positions on practice issues; designed and completed a statewide nursing survey culminating in two research reports on the nursing shortage; and led the state board to recommend a model that would advance the education of registered nurses in New York State.
Dr. Zittel’s most notable accomplishment was the implementation of that model through the development and effort behind passage of the “BS in 10,” a bill that would require New York nurses to achieve their baccalaureate degree within ten years after graduating from their initial nursing programs. The achievement was only possible once she formed a collaborative of faculty from LPN, AD, and BS programs, and nurses from specialty organizations and public organizations — groups that worked together and advocated as one strong group — for the bill.
Efforts continue to advance this far-reaching legislative proposal. Today, Dr. Zittel informs and mobilizes nursing colleagues and organizations around pending New York legislation through the Coalition to Advance Nursing Education. She serves on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Campaign for Action as a member of the steering committee of the New York State Action Coalition, and co-leads its subcommittee to advance the “80/20” recommendation of the Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing Report. She has truly made her mark as a committed, visionary advocate for the future of nursing and the clients for whom we care.