A shortage of primary care practitioners and nurse educators in New Mexico is causing state leaders to issue a call for action to address the crisis. As a master's degree student in nursing, you can become a part of the solution by training to fill these vital jobs in the health care industry. At the same time, you will be learning valuable skills that could help you on your new career path.
New Mexico desperately needs master's-prepared nurse educators, based on current workforce data. The state currently has the least Registered Nurses per capita of any state, yet consistently turns away about 20 percent of qualified applicants to nursing school due to a lack of nurse faculty. More MSN-prepared nurses are needed to teach LPN, RN and BSN students, both in the classroom and in clinical settings.
If you are ready to explore your options for graduate nursing studies, have a look at the New Mexico nursing schools we have listed on this page and request information from those that interest you.
The state also needs more master's-level advanced practice nurses, including nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and certified registered nurse anesthetists. More than 360,000 New Mexico residents live in communities facing primary care shortages, and the state needs more than 160 additional providers to fill the gap. Although state schools graduated 359 students from nursing programs in 2012, about 200 qualified candidates were turned away because of a shortage of nursing faculty and clinical training sites.
As more nurses earn master's degrees, the state can begin to tackle both of these issues. Because New Mexico's nurse practitioners can perform many primary care duties, training more of these specialists could expand health care access in many underserved communities. If more men and women study to become nurse educators, nursing schools in New Mexico may be able to hire the additional faculty members needed to meet enrollment demands.
If earning an advanced degree seems like the right choice for you, New Mexico is home to two state universities with accredited master's programs in nursing. New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico offer degrees leading to a variety of occupations, including nursing administrators, nurse practitioners, midwives, educators, and pediatric and adult acute care practitioners. There are also online MSN programs available; helping you to access an education that otherwise may be out of reach.
As a master's-prepared nurse, you may find yourself in good company in New Mexico. Although the state needs more MSN nurses, it actually has a fairly high percentage of MSN-prepared nurses. Eight percent of New Mexico's RNs have a master's degree, putting the state on par with the national average. Many of the nurses, no doubt, pursue advanced practice because advanced practice nurses in New Mexico are able to practice nursing autonomously. Physician collaboration or supervision is not required to practice or prescribe medication.
Options for Master's in Nursing Programs in New Mexico
A master's degree can be an asset if you want to step into leadership roles in health care. New Mexico State University offers an online program tailored to that goal – a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Administration. The degree, which can be earned through full-time or part-time study, is designed for nurses with an RN license and a bachelor's degree in nursing.
Online classes can be accessed from any place with a computer. Although coursework is completed entirely online, you will be required to come to campus once every year for an orientation lasting three or four days.
Master's classes cover topics that focus on health care leadership, including nursing fiscal management, health policy, informatics, human resources management in health care, and promoting health behavior. After graduation, you should be prepared to step into jobs in middle- and upper-management in the industry.
The University of New Mexico offers a Master of Science in Nursing, with several possible advanced practice concentrations to prepare you for specialized jobs. As a MSN degree candidate, you will be required to take core courses in such topics as research in nursing, theoretical foundations of advanced nursing, and health care policy, systems and financing for advanced practice roles.
The focus areas available include:
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. These nurses learn to provide acute care services to adult and geriatric patients through web-based classes. However, you may be able to complete required clinical hours in your hometown.
- Family Nurse Practitioner. This program focuses particularly on primary care for underserved, rural communities. Non-clinical courses are offered online, but clinical rotations and lab work also are required.
- Nurse Administration. While classes are available online, you may be able to finish any required field work in a location that is convenient to you. The program can be completed by studying full time or part time.
- Nursing Education. In addition to classes, you will be asked to do field work in academic, patient education or staff development settings. Classes can be taken online and completed with full- or part-time study.
- Nurse Midwife. The UNM nurse midwife program is ranked in the top five in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Because the focus is on underserved populations, you can expect to finish most clinical rotations in areas outside of the city.
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. In addition to coursework, you will be asked to travel to rural settings for at least two of your clinical practice rotations. The program can only be completed as a full-time student.
Scholarships and Loans
New Mexico offers several financial incentives for health care professionals. The Nursing Student Loan for Service program awards need-based loans of up to $12,000 annually if you make a two-year service commitment to an underserved community. As a nurse educator-in-training, you can take advantage of a $5000 annual educational loan if you commit to work for three years in a New Mexico public college. The Indian Health Services Loan Repayment Program also is available to qualified employees who work in certain government, tribal or urban health programs. You can find an overview of some financial options here.
Professional organizations for New Mexico's MSN nurses include New Mexico Association of Nurse Anesthetists, New Mexico Nurse Practitioner Council, New Mexico Nurses Association and New Mexico Organization of Nurse Executives.