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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU students to receive first doctor of nursing practice degree in state

New Mexico State University students Gina Fullbright and Shelly Noe will be the first in New Mexico to graduate under NMSU's doctor of nursing practice program this December. The program offers a doctoral degree for nurses at the highest level of nursing practice.

"I am pleased to be able to join with other health care providers in New Mexico to work toward optimal patient outcomes," Fullbright said.

Fullbright has worked at NMSU for seven years and will continue to teach upon graduation. Fullbright is currently an assistant professor in NMSU's nursing program. She will also continue to practice as a nurse practitioner in women's health. In January, she will transfer into a tenure-track assistant professor position.

"The drive to advance my career was prompted by my desire to increase the impact I was able to have on my profession," Noe said. "This experience in combination with my own academic and professional progress, along with the availability of the program, allowed me to recognize that I could advance my role and my profession through research and applied practice."

Noe began teaching at Dona Ana Community College in 2003 and moved to NMSU in 2008. She currently works as a part-time assistant professor for the NMSU School of Nursing. Noe will also continue to work as a nurse practitioner in adult psychiatric mental health after graduating. Noe has accepted a position as an assistant professor in the graduate program in NMSU's School of Nursing. She would also like to continue working on and publishing research to improve practice for patients who struggle with substance abuse.

"The NMSU School of Nursing is proud to be able to contribute to the group of doctoral prepared nurses practicing in New Mexico," said Pamela Schultz, College of Health and Social Services associate dean and director.

The degree program was created at NMSU to meet the changes in the health environment. According to Schultz, the body that accredits advanced practice nurses said by 2015, nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists would not be accredited unless they have a doctorate degree.

"As we prepare to usher in the changes mandated by national health care reform, nurses must be ready at all levels of nursing practice," Fullbright said. "Professional nurses must be life-long learners, meaning they must be open to additional academic training in their careers."