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Statewide Curriculum to Revolutionize Nursing Education

Nov. 14, 2012 -- Nursing education as students and educators in New Mexico have known it for decades is about to undergo a sweeping transformation that will revolutionize the way education is delivered to the state's nursing students.
Statewide Curriculum to Revolutionize Nursing Education

A CNM nursing instructor works with a couple students.

Today, Nov. 14, the New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium unveiled a new, standardized statewide nursing curriculum that will be adopted by 15 public community colleges and universities around the state that offer nursing programs, with CNM leading the way as a first-run school. The statewide curriculum, which is also being adopted by the University of New Mexico, will allow the member institutions not only to share the same curriculum, but also share teaching methodologies and classroom activities so faculty at all institutions can benefit from an open marketplace of nursing education best practices.

“It is so exciting that we will all be sharing resources and having unprecedented access to some of the amazing (nursing) educators across the state,” said Diane Evans-Prior, CNM’s director of Nursing. “We’re really going to improve the overall quality of nursing education in New Mexico. The entire state is now going to be working together on behalf of our nursing programs. It’s going to be amazing.”

Nursing prerequisites for the new curriculum will begin in fall 2013. The new statewide nursing program curriculum will go into effect in fall 2014.

The New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium (NMNEC) was mandated by the New Mexico State Legislature through House Memorial 50 "to develop a statewide plan for nursing education.”

Representatives from government, healthcare providers and the 15 member colleges and universities offering nursing programs make up NMNEC. CNM and the University of New Mexico were the first two institutions to embrace the unified, statewide nursing education concept.

One of the primary drivers for this concept is to produce more nurses with bachelor’s degrees. There is a growing national trend of hospitals and other healthcare providers seeking to hire new nurses who have at least a bachelor’s degree.

The new statewide curriculum means that nursing students at CNM will be taking the same freshmen and sophomore level nursing classes as nursing students at UNM and other community colleges and universities around the state. CNM students will still be able to finish their education at CNM with a nursing associate degree and move directly into the workforce if they wish, but they’ll be positioned to transfer all of their credits to UNM or any other university in New Mexico with a nursing program to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“There is a huge push to produce more nurses prepared with a bachelor’s degree,” said Evans-Prior. “There will still be a demand for associate degree nurses. Hospitals are very willing to hire them, but with a caveat that those nurses complete their (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) within a set timeframe. With the new statewide curriculum, CNM students will be taking a curriculum that truly puts them on a bachelor’s degree track, even though they will be able to complete an associate degree if that’s their preference. But we’ve always encouraged our nursing students to pursue a bachelor’s degree because it provides more career opportunities, and this curriculum is going to make it a whole lot easier for our students to meet those goals. And it’s certainly going to be more cost-effective.”

Students can take up to 96 credit hours in nursing at CNM. It takes 128 credit hours to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.

Some of the nursing classes in the new statewide curriculum will be offered online. So if a particular online nursing class is full at a particular institution, a student at that institution also has the option of taking the online course at another college or university if there’s space available.

“This situation is different from a traditional 2-plus-2 transfer agreement,” said Evans-Prior. “With 2-plus-2s, the two institutions still have two different curricula with different prerequisites for (freshmen and sophomore level) classes. With the statewide curriculum for nursing, it is all the same. Around here, students could even go back and forth between CNM and UNM to complete their coursework.”

The new statewide curriculum will also allow nursing students who need to move to different parts of the state the ability to transfer all of their credits without any need to worry about some credits not transferring.

In 2010, New Mexico was one of nine states selected to receive a $300,000, two-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to advance state and regional strategies aimed at creating a more highly educated, diverse nursing workforce.

“Because this is a prestigious grant for nursing education, the success of NMNEC will be looked at very closely on the national level, and even internationally,” said Evans-Prior. “This effort is going to move New Mexico forward and improve the quality of our nurses throughout the state.”

To learn more about NMNEC, go to

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