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The UNM College of Nursing building, located on North Campus. Photo courtesy of the UNM Health Sciences Center

UNM College of Nursing reintroduces accelerated BSN degree

Starting the semester of fall 2023, the University of New Mexico College of Nursing will be offering an accelerated bachelor’s of science in nursing as a second degree. The application period for the program began back on Dec. 15, according to the Health Sciences Center website.

This “new” pathway will allow individuals who currently have a college degree, preferably related to science, to acquire a degree in nursing at a faster pace: 16 months rather than the traditional 20 months. The pathway will provide access to all of the resources available at the college, “including state-of-the-art simulation and skills labs steps away from the College of Nursing building,” according to the Health Sciences Center website. 

“This is to acknowledge (applicants’) past success and then allow us to address the nursing shortage of 6,000-plus nurses in the state of New Mexico and to provide another opportunity to New Mexicans to become registered professional nurses with a bachelor's degree,” Patricia Watts Kelley, the associate dean for research and scholarship of the College of Nursing at UNM, said.

Currently, there is a significant shortage of nurses that has affected the country in the last couple of years and will continue to increase: the demand for registered nurses is expected to be more than 3.6 million by the year 2030 with New Mexico having been estimated to be short of over 6,200 nurses, according to US News.

The accelerated track was priorly offered at the College of Nursing almost 20 years ago, but it was shut down, according to Kristen Ostrem, the interim assistant dean of undergraduate education at the College. 

“There are lots of nursing jobs out there, so graduates will find a job. In fact, they'll have so many choices of where they want to work. We're hoping they'll stay in New Mexico because New Mexico has a very serious nursing shortage,” Ostrem said.

Watts Kelley put together the new track at UNM based on her experience and expertise at Duquesne University, where she worked with veterans who wanted to become registered nurses and already had a college degree. Other universities across the nation also have similar programs that last between 12-15 months.

“(The program has) been successful in other colleges before, and so it's designed for them to kind of jump in and start off with high credit hours and high demands, but it's been successful all over the nation. So we're feeling really good about it,” Ostrem said.

In fall 2023, the program will accept cohorts of 25 students, but it will continue to grow to up to 125 students in the following five years, according to Watts Kelley. 

“We're all very different. But if we can harness our expertise, we can be very successful in many different ways. And not one size fits all,” Watts Kelley said. “And so, to educate people in different tracks that need people's past experiences, personalities and current life situations, I think, is innovative. And embracing diversity and cultural experiences.” 

Currently, both Watts Kelley and Ostrem are working to hire a program director and faculty to fully attend the track and help the students become successful in it.

Annya Loya is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @annyaloya 

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