NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center




Former NMSU nursing professor honored with plaque on Wall of Excellence

Karen Hand, a retired nursing professor who mentored and inspired hundreds of students during her 28-year career in the College of Health and Social Services at New Mexico State University, is the latest addition to the college’s Nursing Wall of Excellence.


Two women stand side-by-side.
Karen Hand, a former nursing professor at New Mexico State University, right, stands next to Alexa Doig, the director of the School of Nursing, after the unveiling of Hand’s plaque on the Nursing Wall of Excellence in honor of her 45-year career and commitment to the nursing profession. (Courtesy photo)

Hand, who has a Ph.D., joins a group of esteemed nurses who grace the Nursing Wall of Excellence in honor of their legacies and commitments to the nursing profession.

Hand has 45 years of nursing experience and comes from a family of health care professionals: her paternal grandfather and his four brothers were physicians; her mother and grandmother were nurses; her three brothers were medical professionals; and her four daughters started careers as a doctor, dentist, veterinarian and an ICU nurse.

“Nursing is the perfect combination of the humanities and sciences,” said Hand, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing as well as a Ph.D. in nursing science. “I think it’s a privilege to care for people when they’re ill, dying or at life’s beginning.”

NMSU’s School of Nursing unveiled the Nursing Wall of Excellence in 2014. Based at the entrance to the Health and Social Services Building on the main campus, the wall features an audio and visual history of the School of Nursing, as well as a special collection of plaques with names and photos of honored nurses. Funds used to add a nurse to the wall support scholarships for NMSU nursing students.

“We are always pleased to honor our retired faculty members with the special recognition of a plaque on the Nursing Donor Wall. Involving one of our donors in this process makes it all the more meaningful,” said Tina Byford, interim vice president of University Advancement.

In her professional career, Hand served as an intensive care nurse, cardiovascular nurse specialist, health care administrator and nursing professor at NMSU. She also served for many years on the New Mexico Board of Nursing’s Education Advisory Committee and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Hand came to NMSU in 1985 to serve as a clinical instructor in the School of Nursing. She retired from the university in 2017 after having taught hundreds of nursing students. Two years before her retirement, she earned a Ph.D. in nursing science from NMSU.

“The NMSU School of Nursing has such a long history of excellence. NMSU is known as an excellent university, and the School of Nursing, especially, is known to be excellent,” she said. “We know that because the hospitals in our community and other partners in the community will tell us that our graduates are very well prepared to begin their nursing careers.”

While teaching at NMSU, Hand most enjoyed supervising nursing students at hospitals and overseeing their approach to patient care, she said.

“When you take students into the hospital that seems to be where nursing knowledge is really integrated,” she said. “It synthesizes everything they’ve learned about the sciences and humanities. And, when it comes together and they see a disease a in their patient, they never forget it.”

Hand’s appointment to the Nursing Wall of Excellence came as a surprise to her. Over the summer, she learned that an anonymous person from the College of Health and Social Services had donated funds on her behalf to add her name and picture to the wall. She attended the plaque-hanging ceremony in August.

“I’m honored and I’m so humbled,” she said.

For more information, or to purchase a plaque, contact the CHSS Development Office at 575-646-5061.