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NMSU-A working to replace ADN program with new allied health degree

Wednesday August 28, 2013
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New Mexico State University Alamogordo is working to replace its ADN program with an associate degree program in allied health, according to a news release. The new degree could produce workforce-ready students interested in pursuing health careers and provide a foundation for students seeking a BSN.

"We recognize the local need for nurses in communities around the state and will continue to help students seeking that career path," NMSU President Garrey Carruthers said in the release. "We also want to reassure our current students at NMSU Alamogordo that this change will not affect them in any way."

The ADN program at Alamogordo is nationally accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Nursing Education (formerly National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission) and is approved by the New Mexico Board of Nursing through August 2014. Since the program change will not occur until fall 2014, this change will not affect the 29 nursing cohorts in their third and fourth semesters at NMSU Alamogordo. Fourth semester nursing students are scheduled to graduate this fall and the schoolís third semester students next spring.

NMSU Alamogordo is not alone in considering changes to its nursing program.

"Since spring 2010, New Mexicoís nursing education directors and nursing leaders have been working together as a statewide consortium to meet the challenge set forth by the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that one, the BSN should be the entry-level requirement for nursing and two, calls for at least 80% of all nurses to have their BSN by 2020," said Jan Starr, APRN, MSN, DD, the universityís director of nursing.

At NMSU, the program change also is meant to ease the difficulty encountered by rural community colleges to recruit and retain qualified nursing faculty for ADN programs. The proposal still must go through the NMSUís academic approval process, but the university hopes to have it in place for students by fall 2014.

As part of the process, NMSU Las Cruces and NMSU Almogordo are working closely together to initiate the new program. If approved, it will provide a 2+2 option for a defined number of students to enter the BSN program at NMSUís Las Cruces campus. The 2+2 option means students would study for two years at NMSU Alamogordo to receive their associate degree and then participate in distance education classes from NMSU in Las Cruces for another two years for their bachelorís degree. A similar program is in effect at NMSU Grants.

The 2+2 programs in nursing provide the foundation for many community college programs, throughout the U.S., according to Cheri Jimeno, president of NMSU Alamogordo. "We want to make sure we give our students the best opportunity for success once they graduate," said Jimeno.

The plan for NMSU Alamogordo is to offer a concentration in nursing in the associate degree in allied health and certificates of completion in defined allied healthcare fields. There are significant workforce needs in the areas of disability support service, Alzheimerís/dementia care and healthcare assistants. Students who achieve these certificates of completion will be prepared for these fields, according to Jimeno.