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New Mexico State University

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NMSU regents approve doctoral program in nursing

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents unanimously approved a proposal Friday for a doctoral program in nursing at New Mexico State University.

.D. program at NMSU provides a strategic approach to the statewide, regional and national nursing shortage and it's done in full cooperation with our partners at (the University of New Mexico," said Mary Hoke, academic department head for nursing. "The New Mexico state legislature and governor's office have been supportive of nursing education and we anticipate this support continuing in the future."

The proposal, which was unanimously approved by the NMSU Faculty Senate Oct. 6, now goes to the Council of Graduate Deans, the Provosts' Council and the state Department of Higher Education.

The program will help focus nursing research on health disparities, chronic diseases and behavioral health, all within the context of the international border, Hoke said. The department would like to admit its first doctoral class in the fall semester of 2006. The initial class will be limited to eight students.

Hoke pointed out three major reasons for having a doctoral program in nursing at NMSU.

First, the program will help fulfill the university's mission of teaching, research and service.

Second, such a program will help address the national and statewide nursing shortage. Hoke cited a Health and Human Services Department study that was conducted in 2000, showing the national nursing shortage projected to be 27 percent while New Mexico's shortage is projected to be 57 percent. The American Academy of Colleges of Nurses reports that 32,000 students were turned away from bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing because of a shortage of nursing faculty. Furthermore, in five to 10 years, 50 percent of the nurses in the U.S. will be retired at a time when people are living longer. Also, unlike other disciplines, students who pursue Ph.D.s in nursing tend to earn such degrees later in their lives so while they may bring in a lot of experience, their years as educators tend to be shorter than those of professionals in other fields.

A third reason for the doctoral program is to help address the shortage of Hispanic and Native American nurses with doctoral degrees.

"Without a doctoral program, we cannot train the faculty who train the students," provost William Flores said.

Students interested in doctoral studies will be assisted by the Financial Aid Office in securing funding. In addition, graduate assistantships and loan forgiveness programs may be available.