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Gov. Lujan Grisham breaks ground on new College of Nursing and Public Health Excellence Building

Governor also announces $15 million in Nurse Expansion funding

ALBUQUERQUE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday joined officials from the University of New Mexico to break ground on a new, state-of-the-art College of Nursing and Public Health Excellence Building, as well as announcing $15 million in Nurse Expansion funding to help improve New Mexico’s nurse training and education programs.

The building is being made possible through $32.5 million in state funding secured by Gov. Lujan Grisham, including $30 million in General Obligation bonds and $2.5 million in General Fund monies. The total cost of the project is estimated at $43.3 million.

The building will consolidate teaching spaces now spread throughout seven buildings, making school days easier on students and faculty.

“New Mexico, like the rest of the country, is faced with a critical shortage of nurses,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “By investing in the state’s largest nursing program and providing additional resources to programs around New Mexico, we are going to see real progress toward meeting our goal of a healthy nursing workforce.”

“The University of New Mexico shares the vision of our state’s executive and legislative leaders as we seek to improve health care access and community well-being for all New Mexicans,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes. “A healthy New Mexico is a prosperous New Mexico. The UNM College of Nursing and Public Health Excellence Building will be dedicated to the expanded education and training of health professionals in service to New Mexicans while serving as a bold step to Advance New Mexico, a highest-priority goal for our UNM 2040 strategic plan.”

“UNM Health and Health Sciences sincerely appreciates the support of the Governor and our legislative leaders to enhance New Mexico’s education and training of health professionals in nursing and public health,” said Dr. Douglas Ziedonis, UNM Health Sciences Executive VP and UNM Health System CEO. “With this new infrastructure, we aim to tackle the biggest challenges in the delivery of better health outcomes for the people of New Mexico through all our missions of clinical care, education, research, community engagement and inclusive excellence. We are committed to Increasing the nursing and public health workforce and improving health equity. This new facility is critical to these efforts. We appreciate our state leaders and the community’s support for nursing and public health learners and researchers which will lead to enhancing our economy and the health of all New Mexicans here in New Mexico.”

“UNM is working diligently to address the shortage of bachelor of science in nursing-prepared RNs and advanced practice nurses who are vital to the care of our communities. This building will help increase enrollment and support for our students, as well as provide research space and the latest technology to continue our commitment to solving the most critical health care needs,” said UNM College of Nursing Dean Christine E. Kasper. “The combination of this new infrastructure plus the announcement of funding for statewide expansion of nursing programs approved by the Legislature and Governor show that our elected leaders are working to align necessary resources as we work together to meet the recent steep increases in demand for nursing professionals.”

The governor also announced Monday that $15 million in “Nurse Expansion” funding is being disbursed to higher education institutions around the state.

The funding, provided through American Rescue Plan, can be used for a variety of purposes, including to:

  • Add slots for pre-licensure nursing students
  • Develop tutoring to help students pass the licensure exam
  • Recruit high school students
  • Retain nursing faculty
  • Expand clinical sites to rural communities and provide stipends for students working in these communities

The announcements today are just the latest in number of initiatives and investments by the Lujan Grisham administration to bolster the state’s health care workforce.

The state is making it easier than ever to become a nurse through the Opportunity Scholarship, the nation’s most expansive free college program, and the Health Professional Loan Repayment program, which provides student debt relief for New Mexico healthcare professionals working in high-need health-related fields and communities.

“The New Mexico Nursing Association greatly appreciates the Governor, HED Secretary Rodriguez, and the State Legislature for their decision to invest in New Mexico’s nursing workforce by providing $15 million toward expanding enrollment in, and graduation from, our public nursing programs,” said New Mexico Nursing Association Executive Director Deborah Walker. “The governor’s support is allowing New Mexico nursing programs to increase their capacity to enroll more students, a critical first step to address the shortage of RNs throughout the state.”

The Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of American Colleges of Nursing indicate that the nation will face dramatic shortages in the health care workforce in the coming years. One estimate forecasts the need for more than one million new registered nurses between 2020 and 2026.