Alamogordo — New Mexico State University Alamogordo is working to replace its Associate Degree in Nursing program with a potential Associate Degree in Allied Health. The new degree could eventually produce workforce-ready students interested in pursuing health careers. It also would provide a foundation for students seeking a bachelor's in nursing.
"We recognize the local need for nurses in communities around the state and will continue to help students seeking that career path," said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. "We also want to reassure our current students at NMSU Alamogordo that this change will not affect them in any way."
The program change is meant to ease the difficulty encountered by rural community colleges to recruit and retain qualified nursing faculty for ADN programs. The proposal must still go through the NMSU's academic approval process, but the university hopes to have it in place for students by fall 2014.
As part of the process, NMSU and NMSU Alamogordo 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 into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program offered by NMSU's 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 to receive their bachelor's degree. A similar program is already in effect at NMSU Grants.
"The change in the nursing program in Alamogordo follows a national trend toward recognizing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as the entry-level degree into the nursing profession," said Cheri Jimeno, president of NMSU Alamogordo. "We want to make sure we give our students the best opportunity for success once they graduate."
She said that 2+2 programs in nursing provide the foundation for many community college programs throughout the U.S. 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 health care fields. There are significant workforce needs in the areas of disability support service, Alzheimer/dementia care and health care assistants. Students who achieve these certificates of completion will be prepared for these fields. This change will not affect the nursing cohorts in their third and fourth semesters at NMSU Alamogordo. These two cohorts are already enrolled and will continue the program, without disruption.
The Associate Degree in Nursing program at Alamogordo is nationally accredited by ACEN (formerly NLNAC) and is approved by the New Mexico Board of Nursing through August 2014. Since the program change will not occur until fall 2014, students who are currently enrolled in the ADN program will graduate from an accredited nursing program.