RIO RANCHO, NM (KRQE) - The University of New Mexico is stepping up to help close the gap on the state's severe nursing shortage.
Starting this fall, the nursing program will expand to UNM West in Rio Rancho. The goal is to provide more opportunities for people to get into the competitive program, then stay in New Mexico to work after graduation.
"In New Mexico, we probably have a shortage of about 3,700 registered nurses," College of Nursing Interim Dean Dr. Carolyn Montoya said. "A lot of it has to do with faculty shortage or just in terms of the fact that you do not have the sufficient facilities to handle the number of students who want to be nurses."
She said the west campus students will get the same education as their counterparts at the college of nursing with their classes live-conferenced from the main campus.
Then, they can get hands-on experience during their clinical trials at Sandoval County-area medical facilities.
"We also hope that they will go back there to serve that area," Montoya said, estimating that about 80-percent of UNM nursing graduates stay and work in New Mexico, adding to the workforce of about 17,200 registered nurses in the state.
They'll start by accepting a cohort of eight nursing students this fall, then adding to that by eight each semester for the 20-month program.