ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Nursing students in programs at state colleges and universities will now be able to transfer credits between institutions more easily and without fear of losing time and money for courses already taken.
On Thursday, Gov. Susana Martinez and leaders of the New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium announced that all of the nursing programs offered at New Mexico’s higher education institutions will implement a common curriculum with standardized and streamlined clinical and academic training requirements.
“This has been in the works since 2009, when a small group of nursing educators came together for a meeting, and since then it’s blossomed to include nursing educators from all 19 state-funded schools around New Mexico,” said consortium member Diane Evans-Prior, a registered nurse and nursing programs director at Central New Mexico Community College.
“It’s important because a statewide curriculum means streamlined education. So a student in a rural community who wants a bachelor’s degree in nursing, now has to pay a lot of money for a private school or has to travel to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque or New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, the only state-funded four-year institutions for nursing. But, eventually, all community colleges around the state will be able to offer a bachelor’s degree to those students, who will no longer have to travel,” Evans-Prior said.
Students who enter nursing programs at community colleges will still be able to get a two-year associate’s degree if that’s what they want, “or they can get both degrees concurrently,” she said. “It will be seamless, because all the schools will be teaching exactly the same courses and will have exactly the same prerequisites.”
This partnering of local community colleges with larger universities, will result in more nurses expanding their training while living within their communities; and because New Mexico faces a shortage of primary care and family practice health care workers, especially in rural areas, establishing a common nursing curriculum will alleviate the shortage in these underserved areas, she said.
By the next academic year, 63 percent of nursing students at New Mexico higher education institutions will learn from the same curriculum, with that percentage rising each year to culminate in 100 percent participation for the 2017 school year.