Based on a growing demand for highly trained nurses, Grand Canyon University has expanded its nursing program with additional classrooms and hands-on teaching tools.
Modeled after the university's campus in Phoenix, Ariz., the renovated 16,249-square-foot location at Conejos Office Park features a skills and simulation lab, including one of only a handful of mock home health care settings at universities nationwide to prepare a new breed of nurses. There also are conference rooms, faculty offices, a student lounge and the Antelope Reception Center, where enrollment counselors can meet with prospective students.
Nationally, nursing will see 22% job growth - more than any other occupation - by 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, employers are looking for job candidates who are well equipped to work in a new environment.
In New Mexico, there is a 27% shortage of nurses and the need is greatest in rural areas of the state, said Gary Gum, program director of the university's Albuquerque location.
GCU's Albuquerque program began in May 2011 at the request of executives at Presbyterian Healthcare Services. At the time, the University of New Mexico was the only school that offered a pre-licensure bachelor of science (BSN) program in Albuquerque.
"Our program fills a real need among healthcare providers who are looking for BSN-prepared nurses," Gum said. He pointed to a report by the Institute of Medicine, which set a standard that 80% of all nurses will be BSN-prepared by 2020.
In Arizona, New Mexico and across the Southwest, GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has earned a reputation for its academic quality. In 2012, the college ranked first among bachelor's degree nursing programs in Arizona with the highest pass rate on the National Council of Licensure Examinations - ahead of all three of Arizona's state universities. The college also has established partnerships with the state's top healthcare organizations, so students can apply their skills in the real world.