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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Nursing program receives $1.24 million to expand degree-completion program

New Mexico State University's Nursing Department has received a three-year $1.24 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand its Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree-Completion Program for registered nurses in Dona Ana, Eddy and Otero counties.

thern New Mexico RN to BSN Expansion Initiative will use the grant funds to take the main campus program to New Mexico State branches in Alamogordo and Carlsbad in the first year and to one of the Dona Ana Branch Community College locations in the second year.

"This is very much a cooperative project with our NMSU branch nursing programs," said Mary Hoke, head of the nursing department. "The branch campus nursing programs were involved in the initial planning for the initiative and will assist with recruitment and advising of students in their areas."

The main-campus program was designed to allow registered nurses with associate degrees to receive credit for past academic and nursing course work in pursuit of a bachelor's degree. Hoke said a full-time student can complete the program in 18 months.

"The need for the expansion initiative is based on New Mexico's status as a largely medically underserved area, the worsening shortage of nurses, the lack of educational mobility for the large number of associate degree nurses and the need for increased numbers of baccalaureate nurses to address the complex health needs of New Mexico residents and the border population," Hoke said.

The program will use a compressed course scheduling combined with interactive video and WebCT enhanced instruction to deliver the classes to the branch locations from the main campus.

"This reduces travel time and helps nurses adjust work schedules to attend classes. The idea is to keep the nurses in their home communities," Hoke said. "Across the country Hispanic nurses tend to start their nursing education at the associate degree level. Educating more Hispanic nurses and building on programs in rural areas is an essential step towards improving health in southern New Mexico."

She said the program objectives under the grant are to admit, retain and graduate a minimum of 112 registered nurse students through the completion program; to admit, retain and graduate 56 minority students; and to have at least 25 percent of the graduates work in medically underserved communities after graduation.

Hoke said this is the first HRSA-funded nursing program at New Mexico State. HRSA, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has four bureaus that direct programs aimed at improving and expanding access to comprehensive, quality health care. The university's grant was awarded by the bureau working to provide primary health care to medically underserved people.

Hoke and nursing professor Mary Sizemore, who will coordinate the expansion to the branches, will visit Alamogordo and Carlsbad in late July and early August to announce the program. For more information about the program, contact Sizemore at (505) 646-3812.

Julie M. Hughes
July 16, 2002