Writer: Justin Bannister, (575) 646-5981, firstname.lastname@example.org
Researching health disparities, especially those focused in the diverse populations along the U.S./Mexico border, is becoming a popular trend - just ask those waiting to enroll in the Ph.D. in nursing program at New Mexico State University's College of Health and Social Services.
"We have some really interesting research applicants and interesting research proposals from students articulating in the program," said Kathleen Huttlinger, the associate director for graduate programs in nursing at NMSU. She added the applications from students who wish to enroll in the Ph.D. in nursing program have to match what current faculty members can accommodate, specifically projects with an emphasis on health needs of those living along the border and in rural communities.
Examples of potential research projects by Ph.D. in nursing students include issues of trust and confidence-building in nursing students, drug-resistant tuberculosis in border colonias, access to health care services in rural areas and prioritizing dental health needs among Hispanic families.
"Just as there is a national shortage of nurses, there's also a national shortage of nursing faculty," Huttlinger said. "This program prepares students for fields in nursing research, education, practice and/or health policy."
The program is all Web-based, except for a mandatory weeklong session on campus once a year. Currently, 26 students are enrolled in the program and another 24 applicants are vying for the 10 available slots for new students that will open this summer.
"The vast majority of our applicants, probably close to 80 percent, are working in academic positions," she said. "Others are in clinical and administrative positions who would like to do research."
The program was first approved at the university in December 2006 and it began taking students the following year. The program's first graduate was awarded her degree in fall 2009 and another four students should graduate in the next year.
Huttlinger said NMSU's Ph.D. in nursing is unique to the area. The closest colleges that offer similar programs are at the University of New Mexico and the University of Arizona.
Growth has been a trend for the College of Health and Social Services. Last week, it held an expansion celebration to commemorate a new two-story, 6,400-square-foot addition being constructed on the south end of the College of Health and Social Services building. The addition was needed to accommodate an influx of students over the last few years. Since 2006, graduate enrollment is up nearly 100 percent. The college's overall student headcount has increased by approximately 30 percent in that same time.
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