Contact: Wendel Sloan at 575.562.2253
PORTALES—The New Mexico Higher Education Department (NMHED) recently awarded a $691,000 grant to the nursing program at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.
Leslie Paternoster, director of the nursing program, applied for the grant, along with ENMU grants director Jo Laney.
The NMHED specified that the grant money should be used to increase retention, to recruit, to bring in new faculty, and increase more nurses with their bachelor’s of science in nursing in New Mexico.
Eastern’s program, which is designed to take registered nurses (RNs) and help them get their bachelor’s degree, has had a 224 percent increase in enrollment since fall of last year. The program is now completely online.
“We’re the little jewel in the eastern part of the state and the word is spreading throughout New Mexico,” Paternoster said.
According to her, ENMU grads are serving as nurses in 42 communities—22 of them in New Mexico.
Along with scholarships for students, the money will be used to hire another full-time faculty, help to pay the recruitment specialist and to hire a retention specialist.
The department hopes to, in the next 3–5 years, offer a master’s program and develop a nurse practitioners program.
A study conducted by the University of New Mexico says that New Mexico is expected to have a 52 percent nursing shortage by 2020.