UTEP’s New Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Concentration to Address Region’s Nursing Shortage


Photo courtesy UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The University of Texas at El Paso announced Thursday that their School of Nursing will offer the only neonatal concentration and postgraduate certificate for nurse practitioners in West Texas and New Mexico starting in the spring 2022 semester.

University official say that the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) concentration in UTEP’s Master of Science in Nursing program will address the critical shortage of neonatal nurse practitioners in the region.

The two-year concentration will prepare advanced practice nurses to deliver high-quality care in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).

NNPs provide specialized care for premature, sick and medically complex newborns, infants and children up to age 2. They perform assessments and diagnosis, and provide treatment in hospitals, neonatal transport services and delivery rooms.

“Neonatal nurse practitioners are well equipped to provide specialized care to neonates experiencing a wide range of health issues, including infections, preterm birth, respiratory problems, heart abnormalities and other high-risk conditions…Texas has an urgent need for nurses, including NNPs. With the addition of this new concentration to our list of high-quality nursing programs, we are confident in UTEP’s ability to address the nursing shortage by educating well-qualified registered nurses and nurse practitioners to practice throughout the region.”

School of Nursing Dean Leslie K. Robbins, Ph.D.

A 2020 National Association of Neonatal Nurses survey revealed that neonatal nurse practitioners account for only 2% of all licensed nurse practitioners in the United States.

Currently there are 36 NNP programs in the U.S. UTEP is one of four Texas universities that offer an NNP program. Others include Baylor University, The University of Texas at Arlington and The University of Texas at Galveston. There are no NNP programs in New Mexico.

UTEP’s NNP concentration is the latest offering in the School of Nursing’s growing nurse practitioner program, which also includes concentrations in Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The NNP concentration also complements the school’s Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care concentrations.

Courses will be offered in a hybrid format that combines online and face-to-face instruction.

“With the addition of the NNP concentration, UTEP’s School of Nursing is now preparing advanced practice nurses to provide care for vulnerable preterm infants all the way up to adolescents 18 years of age…this addition provides a continuum of care in our pediatric nurse practitioner program, which now covers pediatrics across the lifespan, starting with specialized neonatal nurse practitioners caring for preterm infants in acute-care settings, ensuring our children stay healthy in our community.”

Roberta Durk-Gomez, DNP, director of UTEP’s Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas has an 11% preterm birth rate, which includes babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. New Mexico’s preterm birth rate is 13%. Texas and New Mexico’s preterm birth rates are higher than the national average of 9.8%.

Applications are being accepted through the UTEP Graduate School

The announcement of the new concentration coincides with National Nurse Practitioner week from Nov. 7-13, 2021.

Photo courtesy UTEP

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