Nurses play a vital role in health care and yet St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, like many across the country, is unable to get enough of them into the workforce.

Maria College will be expanding to fix this problem. 

Celeste DeChamps currently works as the interim chief nursing officer at St. Peter's. She has worked as a nurse for 41 years. 

"The nurses are the back bone of the hospital. It's a tough job. It's stressful at times," said DeChamps.

She says the shortage of nurses is currently at it's peak, with reports projecting the need for nurses to grow by 16 percent in the next five years. 

"The population is getting older. There's going to be more of a need for nurses in the community and hospitals," said DeChamps.  

Maria College sits just across the street from St. Peter's, with a coveted nursing program in the Capital Region.  

DeChamps graduated from the program in 1977 and says it gave her an "excellent foundation" in nursing. 

The college's nursing program can only hold 400 students, leading to a long wait list for acceptance. With the help of a state grant from Empire State Development Corporation, the college will invest $4 million into renovations that could possibly double their enrollment.

College President Dr. Thomas Gamble says the renovations was influenced by the national shortage. 

"We wanted to bring more students in because we see this growing need for career ready nurses in the capital region," said Gamble.  

The new construction will transform into a 6,500 square foot simulation lab, included in a high-tech nursing wing. 

Faculty says it will enable students to get hands on experience before entering the workforce.

While the school is excited for the upgrade, DeChamps says the change will impact health care throughout the Capital Region.

"The more nurses that can be educated [and] will remain in this community is a very important asset," said DeChamps. 

The lab will be ready for classes in January, and the increased program enrollment will begin in Fall 2019.