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NMSU School of Nursing students prepare for the future

Jena Berry knew she wanted to become a nurse with the birth of her first child. For Jason Bloomer, his aspiration to become a nurse evolved from a childhood dream of being a veterinarian.

Woman?s head shot.
New Mexico State University nursing senior Jena Berry, who graduates in December, is one of the 73 Dona Ana Community College students that transferred to NMSU in fall 2012. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)
Man?s head shot.
New Mexico State University nursing senior Jason Bloomer, who graduates in August, is one of the 73 Dona Ana Community College students that transferred to NMSU in fall 2012. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)

These two New Mexico State University nursing students are among the 73 nursing students that transferred from Dona Ana Community College in fall 2012. Berry is scheduled to graduate in December, while Bloomer is planning for an August graduation.

Both Bloomer and Berry said they are thrilled with their approaching graduation.

?I am so excited to be a nurse,? said Bloomer, who wants to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. ?It?s something I wanted to do for a long time. I always knew that medicine would be my path, and nursing had to be the one. It fits me so perfectly.?

?It seems like there is so much to do when you are getting through nursing school,? said Berry, who hopes to work in labor and delivery or neonatal intensive care unit. ?Every step is so much work. I feel like I?m climbing a huge staircase and that I?m almost there, and I can almost taste it.?

Of the 73 DACC nursing students that transferred to NMSU in 2012, eight have graduated, 19 are graduating in May, 37 are in their seventh semester, seven are in their sixth or fifth semesters and two students withdrew for personal reasons.

All eight students who have graduated passed the national exam, National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, on their first attempt, according to Pamela Schultz, School of Nursing director and associate dean of the College of Health and Social Services.

?We are very pleased with the way this has proceeded,? Schultz said. ?The students have done very well, and I think it just points out that many students from a community college can get a BSN, and they are perfectly capable of that level of work.?

?I am extremely grateful to the faculty and administration of the School of Nursing for stepping up to the plate and meeting the needs when 73 students from DACC were admitted into the nursing program,? said Tilahun Adera, dean of the College of Health and Social Services.

Typically, NMSU admits 48 students into the nursing program in Las Cruces each semester, so the increased students meant faculty had to adapt to the additional number of students.

?The faculty has worked extra, come in off hours and have put together innovative programs to support student success,? said Anita Reinhardt, associate director for undergraduate programs and assistant professor.

In January, NMSU hosted the Preclinical Preparation Labs that allowed students to practice hands-on training. All 280 pre-licensure students were required to rotate through skills stations to prepare them for their various clinical experiences.

As a fifth-semester student when she transferred, Berry said she was surprised by the experience.

?I wasn?t thinking I would enjoy nursing school,? said Berry. ?The students, the class, the teachers that we have are a united front and you know if you need help someone is going to help you. It?s a real camaraderie here.?

To earn a bachelor?s degree in nursing at NMSU, Berry and Bloomer went through the traditional four-year pre-licensure program.

?We really encouraged them and made them study hard,? Reinhardt said. ?These students stepped right up to the plate.?

While going through the nursing program, Bloomer said he learned the profession is so much more than taking vital signs and treating a wound.

?Nursing isn?t just at the bedside,? he said. ?You have to think of a person as a whole person, spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. The great thing about nursing, it affects the person and the human condition in all aspects.?

?We don?t graduate experienced nurses from our program that are seasoned, we graduate novice BSN professional nurses,? Reinhardt said. ?They then have to go out and learn and practice in the community and in hospital settings. It doesn?t matter where they started, this is where they graduated, and we are really proud of them.?

While both Berry and Bloomer are thinking about their careers after nursing school, Bloomer said he hopes to return in fall 2015 for his Doctor of Nursing Practice in the family, psych/mental specialty.

?I?m an Aggie through and through, there is no way I could trade and go anywhere else,? he said.