New Mexico nursing board puts college on notice

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Santa Fe Community College won’t be able to accept any new students into its nursing program until its graduates’ test results improve or it wins an appeal.

You keep hearing New Mexico needs more nurses. Now, the state is clamping down on a school for the quality of nurses it’s sending out into the workforce

The Santa Fe Community College nursing program could face a halt in enrollment for up to two years because of student test scores, and with a nursing shortage in the state, it could be bad news for a lot of people.

“If we are for whatever reason not allowed to continue to enroll students, it’s going to impact our community,” said Jenny Landen, Santa Fe Community College Dean of Sciences, Health, Engineering and Math

Santa Fe Community College’s nursing program could learn its fate as early as next week.

In February, it was placed on “conditional status” for falling test scores.

“It’s pretty harsh when you consider that many people are not very good test takers and it takes one or two times in order for them to pass,” Landen said.

The requirement is that more than 80 percent of students pass the national licensing test on the first try.

The pass rate was in the 70’s a few years ago, but it’s climbing now.

“In 2015, our pass rate was actually 79.66 and they don’t round up to 80 percent,” Landen said.

But, the college says most recently 88 percent of their grads passed.

Now, a subcommittee of the state Board of Nursing is recommending the nursing program’s conditional status be removed.

The college says faculty retirements and changes in the curriculum could have contributed to the drop.

But if that status stays, the school would have to halt enrollment for up to two years, meaning fewer graduates for an already shorthanded nursing workforce.

“One of the projections we’ve seen is that by 2025 there will be a shortage of 3,400 nurses in New Mexico,” said Jeff Dye, New Mexico Hospital Association.

“Nursing is absolutely in demand, we’ve been anticipating this looming nursing shortage for 15 years,” said Diane Evans-Prior, Central New Mexico Community College Nursing Program Director.

An aging nursing population that delayed retirement during the recession is a worry.

Dye says while the state needs nurses, they need to be qualified.

“And from the school’s side I think it’s a challenge to get that level of training into nurses before they’re out in the marketplace,” Dye said.

Santa Fe Community College officials say the New Mexico Nursing Board’s rules are too strict.

The school says it just received its national accreditation until 2021.

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