By Jonathan Baca , Copy Editor
Nursing major, Aliishea Flook has been working to get into the competitive Nursing program at CNM for four years now, she said.
And because of the recent changes to curriculum, eligibility requirements and the coordinated entry process, Flook said she has struggled to pass many classes that are no longer required, and although she originally intended to just get an associate degree, she has ended up taking a lot of classes that are only required for a bachelor’s.
She said she only has enough financial aid to pay for 25 more credit hours, and worries she won’t be able to afford school much longer, that is if she manages to get into the program at all.
Flook said there are many other students like her, who have been caught in the middle of a Nursing program that changes from year to year dramatically, and who are all competing for a very limited number of coveted spots.
“I do appreciate the fact that I do have all those classes under my belt, but at the same time I feel like I’ve kind of wasted my time and I’m not really where I want to be. And now my financial aid is almost drained, so I’m sitting back and thinking, what am I going to do?” Flook said.
Diane Evans-Prior, Director of the Nursing Program said that CNM, along with every nursing program in the state, has been transitioning as part of the New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium (NMNEC), which was created to standardize curriculum and eligibility requirements and to make it easier for students to transfer to other schools.
“It will ultimately result in the increase in the number with of nurses, especially those bachelor’s degrees. This is not just good for students at CNM, it is important to the entire state. CNM is proud to be a first implementer,” Evans-Prior said.
For the last few semesters, both the old and new pro¬grams were running simultaneously at CNM, and the number of open slots for new Nursing students was drastically reduced, leaving students like Flook in a kind of limbo.
Amanda Lopez, Program Coordinator for the Office of Coordinated Entry said the process of getting into the program has changed dramatically as well, in an attempt to help with some of the challenges that students like Flook have been dealing with since the changes have been made.
But beginning this fall, the new program will be fully implemented, and will go from 24 back up to 64 slots for new students, with the goal of increasing by eight slots each semester as new instructors are hired, Lopez said.
Instead of the old petition process, where students with the highest GPAs and exam scores had a better chance of getting in, there will now be a pre-registration screening process, where all students who meet the minimum requirements and fill out the pre-registration form will be cleared and given the chance to register, Lopez said.
Students have from May 23 to June 23 to fill out the form on the school’s Coordinated Entry website, and will be told within two weeks if they meet the requirements, and will then be given a registration date, she said.
“All students who meet the minimum requirements will have an equal opportunity to register for the program,” Evans-Prior said.
There are still a limited number of open slots, how¬ever, and they will be given out on a first-come-first-served basis, so there is still no guarantee that a qualified student will get in on their first try, she said.
There is also a new option for what Evans- Prior called the “highly, highly qualified students.”
CNM is teaming up with UNM to offer a Bachelor of Nursing degree, where students will take many of their Nursing classes at CNM and pay cheaper tuition before transferring to UNM to finish their degrees, and these slots will be reserved for students with the highest GPAs and test scores, Lopez said.
Another issue they are trying to fix is that in order to get the earliest registration dates, students used to have to be currently enrolled, which meant that many students were stuck taking classes they did not really need in order to get the best registration time.
Flook said this was the reason she had continued to take classes and use up her financial aid.
Now, once students meet the minimum requirements and fill out the pre-registration form, they will be able to get an early registration date and time, regardless of whether they are currently enrolled, allowing students like Flook to save their money for the actual Nursing pro¬gram classes, Evans-Prior said.
Flook said in response to the efforts made by the Nursing department that “It sounds like they’re trying, responding to all the complaints. I think that would probably be beneficial and could give people that little glimmer of hope to continue to try.”
Evans-Prior said she empathizes with students who have not been able to get in because of limited space and the transition, and she hopes that they will keep trying.
“My overall message to these students is one of per¬severance. Tenacity is a noble trait in a nurse—one we cannot teach. Look at options. Make informed decisions. Stick it out. The profession is worth the pursuit,” Evans- Prior said.
Although Flook said she has become very frustrated with this process and has considered switching majors, she still dreams of becoming a nurse, and hopes that these changes will give her the chance to fulfill her goals.
“I do hope and pray that someday I will get that opportunity to just be where I want to be, which is helping people and being a caregiver in a career that I enjoy. I just wish so much that I was working by now,” Flook said.
By Jonathan Baca , Copy Editor