New Mexico Governor Martinez Announces New Common Nursing Curriculum

Nov 8, 2013, 4:23 PM

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. [Photo by permission of the state of New Mexico via Wikimedia Commons.]

At a news conference yesterday in Albuquerque, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez announced the establishment of a statewide common nursing curriculum, designed to increase the number of nurses with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees in the state. She was joined at the event by leaders from the New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium (NMNEC), which led the effort to develop the curriculum and build partnerships between community colleges and universities.

NMNEC’s work is supported by the New Mexico Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) initiative, a grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Implementation of this curriculum in New Mexico will allow nursing students to more easily transfer credits from community colleges within the state, so they can pursue BSNs without having to physically attend large universities like the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque or New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. For the first time, state community colleges will be able to partner with one of these universities to offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

By the 2014-2015 academic year, 63 percent of nursing students at New Mexico higher education institutions will be using the new common curriculum. By the 2017-2018 academic year, the state intends to achieve 100 percent participation.

“As our diverse New Mexico community continues to face unprecedented changes in health care, it is our responsibility to proactively prepare for these challenging conditions. Together, we can meet a major need of our workforce and ensure we are providing the high level of care that New Mexican families and communities deserve. Thanks to the work of the NMNEC, the New Mexico Higher Education Department, and health care professionals across our state, New Mexico will be better prepared for today’s health care challenges, as well as those to come,” Governor Martinez said.

The state Secretary of Higher Education, José Z. Garcia, and Secretary of Health Retta Ward, attended the announcement, along with the NMNEC Leadership Council. The audience included nurse educators, nursing students, hospital/clinic nurse educators and clinicians, and nursing association leaders.

“These reforms that Governor Martinez has instituted are essential to both current and aspiring New Mexico nursing professionals, as well as to the communities we serve,” said Terry Keller, PhD, a nursing educator who teaches at New Mexico State University. “For too long, New Mexicans seeking to put their talents and passions to work serving their communities as nurses have had to deal with undue hardships when transferring credits from one institution to another due to the circumstances of everyday life. Now, aspiring nursing students will be able to pursue their dreams of serving as health care professionals much easier, in more underserved areas across our state. In turn, this will ease the burden on current health care professionals, who are already in short supply.”

New Mexico faces a shortage of primary care and family practice health care workers, especially in rural areas.

In its groundbreaking report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that 80 percent of the nation’s nursing workforce be prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher by the year 2020.  RWJF is helping advance recommendations in the IOM report by supporting the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action.

Learn more about APIN’s work in New Mexico, Texas, and Washington State.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.