New Mexico is known for its beautiful, wide-open spaces. What many people may not know is that fully one-third of the state’s population resides in rural or frontier settings, making it very difficult for them to access health care.
As our state’s flagship nursing program, the University of New Mexico College of Nursing is finding innovative solutions to help meet the critical need for health care providers in these areas.
One way we do this is through the TeleECHO clinic operated with the primary care Area Health Education Centers. A video conferencing network developed by UNM’s Project ECHO connects practitioners located in rural areas with experts on the Health Sciences Center campus to consult on complex patient cases to improve patient outcomes.
Providers and nurse practitioner students in their final term of graduate school present cases from their clinic or clinical education to a panel of experienced nurse practitioners, physicians and other health professionals, who then provide recommendations on the best course of care for each patient. We believe the participation of our nurse practitioner students will encourage them to practice in rural New Mexico after they graduate because they know that they will be able to return to the TeleECHO for support.
Nurse practitioners are licensed, independent clinicians who manage the patient’s health conditions and preventive care in primary and specialty care settings. They are registered nurses who have gone on to complete advanced education and clinical competency with master’s, post-master’s and doctoral degrees.
Nurse practitioners in New Mexico practice under their own license, with full prescriptive authority. Studies show that advanced-practice registered nurses such as nurse practitioners deliver safe, high-quality care that results in positive health outcomes for patients. Better still, patients report high levels of satisfaction under their care.
The College of Nursing promotes health and health equity for the residents of our state in many other ways.
We engage in cutting-edge science, practice and clinical research, and our college prepares practitioners, nurse educators and nurse leaders to develop new understandings of health among vulnerable populations.
Our nationally ranked master of science in nursing degree program educates advanced practice nurses in the areas of family practice, pediatric, adult gerontology and acute care, psychiatric mental health and nurse-midwifery. Because we have a strong focus on rural health, our program requires students to travel to rural locations throughout the state for their clinical education experiences.
We are researchers, scholars and innovators. Our work in the College of Nursing is not just a mission – it is a calling.
Christine E. Kasper, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACSM, is dean and the Crenshaw Endowed professor in the UNM College of Nursing.