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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Professor with gerontology background named interim director of nursing school and associate college dean at New Mexico State University

Julie E. Johnson has been named interim director and Elisa E. and Antonio H. Enriquez endowed professor for New Mexico State University's School of Nursing. She also will serve as associate dean for doctoral program development in the College of Health and Social Services.

Dr. Julie Johnson, interim director, NMSU School of Nursing. (NMSU photo by Ben La Marca)

Helping to double enrollment in Nevada's schools of nursing led to her induction into the American Academy of Nursing. While Nevada is the fastest growing state in terms of population, its nursing shortage is still the worst in the nation, Johnson said.

Her extensive work experience includes deanships at Kent State University, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of Nevada at Reno. She also has served in professor or administrative positions at Montana State University, the University of Missouri, the University of Wyoming, the University of Texas at Tyler and Baylor University. After earning her bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Texas at Austin, Johnson stayed to pursue her doctoral degree, majoring in adult health nursing with a concentration in gerontology.

The field of gerontology is fascinating because the elderly population is growing quickly and most elderly patients have special physiological, psychological and sociological needs, she said. The uniqueness of this aspect of nursing requires a more interdisciplinary type of approach to care as nurses work closely with psychologists, sociologists and social workers, she said.
But "a lot of nursing students tend to want to stay away from it (gerontology)," Johnson said. "They prefer something much more exciting and more glamorous."

As interim director of NMSU's School of Nursing, Johnson hopes to change that line of thinking and convince more students that the study of gerontology is not only growing in importance as people live longer, but that it can be exciting and glamorous in its own way.