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New Mexico State University

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NMSU nursing distance education program to share national award

New Mexico State University's RN to BSN (Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing) distance education program will share an award of excellence with Mississippi State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

Both programs were honored by the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC) April 26 in Seattle.

The NMSU program allows registered nurses living and working in rural areas to earn their bachelor of science in nursing degrees without having to commute to the main campus.

"We're being recognized for outstanding work that benefits individual nurses in New Mexico and addresses statewide health needs," said Mary Hoke, professor of nursing. "It's only possible because of the great partnerships that happen within NMSU's distance education infrastructure."

Besides Hoke, other RN to BSN team members include professors Mary Sizemore and Leslie Robbins and staff member Miriam Maske, all from NMSU's School of Nursing; Kathy Eydenberg from the NMSU-Alamogordo Department of Nursing; Will Anne Ricer from the NMSU-Carlsbad Department of Nursing; and Denise Welsh, director of media technology at NMSU.

Hoke, Sizemore and Robbins were singled out by Esperanza Joyce, director of the School of Nursing and associate dean for nursing education, who wrote that the trio achieved "outstanding results."

"They have reduced traditional barriers in working with community college nursing programs, achieved a 96 percent student retention rate within a distance education program, and produced documented learning in the area of critical thinking," Joyce wrote.

In written testimony to ADEC, Anna Florez, a registered nurse who earned her bachelor's degree in nursing through the School of Nursing's distance education program, praised the program for allowing her "to grow professionally and personally" and for giving her "a renewed sense of pride in her profession." Another NMSU student, Fabian Barrientoz, wrote that he would have had to commute more than 70 miles one way several times a week to complete the requirements for his degree had it not been for the distance education availabilities. Barrientoz is using the program again as he works on his master of science in nursing degree.

The linkages between the main campus nursing programs and associate degree programs help NMSU meet its land-grant mission "which is to provide educational access to all residents of this state," wrote Jeffrey Brandon, dean of the College of Health and Social Services.