May 12, 2006

Contact: Lauren Cruse (505) 272-3690

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Albuquerque, UNM) - The number of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduates this spring semester is at an all-time high at the University of New Mexico College of Nursing (UNM CON), with 66 basic students receiving their BSN on Friday, May 12, at the CON convocation.

The 66 BSN graduates is double the amount the CON is used to seeing during graduation time, as 32 has been the standard number in the past. With the significant increase over the past 3 years, the state of New Mexico is well on its way to receiving more top care from highly educated nurses.

Dr. Susan Fox, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Community Partnerships at the CON, said nursing leaders from New Mexico are focused on adjusting the current ratio of nurses with a BSN to nurses with an Associate Degree seen in their care delivery systems.

"The ratio right now is 25 percent BSN graduates and 75 percent Associate Degree nurses in the state," said Dr. Fox. "The goal is to flip that ratio and make it 66 percent BSN graduates and 33 percent Associate Degree nurses, which is the nationally recommended proportion."

With a BSN, nurses offer a wide variety of skills to their hospitals and clinics, including skills in communication and management. A BSN is often required for leadership roles and to enter a Master of Science in Nursing program, where specialization in nursing occurs.

Program accessibility has been a major component to achieving conversion of Associate Degree graduates to BSNs. New Mexico residents outside of Albuquerque can earn their degrees through online programs, allowing them to stay and work in their rural communities while earning a top-notch nursing education.

The online process has proven to be a success for CON. This spring semester, 24 students from the Registered Nurse (RN) to BSN program will be graduating after completing all of their nursing classes online, with clinical experiences gained in their home communities.

Friday's convocation will also see 27 Master's students graduate. Three concentrations in the Master's program (including Nursing Education, which prepares new faculty for nursing programs around the state) are also available on the Web, as is the PhD program.

"The more widespread access we (CON) can provide in our nursing programs, the more New Mexico residents will be able to become highly educated nurses and, in turn, better the health of the citizens of the state of New Mexico," said Dr. Fox.

The CON Convocation will be held Friday, May 12, at the Downtown Convention Center in the Kiva Auditorium beginning at 3 p.m.