SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Thursday, the state legislature is hearing from nurses as lawmakers figure out how to solve the state’s nursing shortage. “We are woefully lacking in being able to immediately spin up and be able to graduate hundreds of more students. Yes, it does take resources, lots of resources,” said Terri Tewart, dean of the School of Science, Health, Engineering, and Math at Santa Fe Community College.

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Nurses from NMSU and Santa Fe Community College spoke Thursday morning in support of Senate Bill 50. The bill would appropriate $15 million from the general fund to expand nursing programs at colleges. Nurses blame the lack of faculty as the top reason qualified students aren’t accepted into their programs.

They say nurses often opt to work at hospitals where they pay more and say when faculty members retire they have a hired time finding people to fill those positions. “We want our local graduates in our programs but really, this is about caring for one another in our communities,” said Tewart.

During the height of the pandemic, nurses were ditching their regular jobs to go the traveling nurse route, where that can pay more than $200 an hour. A recent report from UNM shows New Mexico has a shortage of more than 6,000 registered nurses.