Kathy Falkenhagen

UNM-Taos: the best we can be

By Bill Knief

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Monday, August 20 marked the first day of Fall Semester at UNM-Taos, although students can still enroll for the sixteen weeks term through August 31. Last minute registration is not the best way to start the semester, however, and time is running out. Some classes have been dropped due to low enrollment while others have already filled.

But if you still wish to take classes, either for credit or simply for personal enrichment, it is highly recommended that you contact the office of enrollment immediately by calling 737-6200, going online at taos.unm.edu or going over in person to Pueblo Hall on the Klauer campus south of town on county road 110 just past the National Guard Armory. More than 100 first-time students attended New Student Orientation on August 16, and well over a thousand students have already registered for over 11,000 credit hours at the college.

It’s starting out to be an exceptional year. At Faculty Orientation August 20, Executive Director Dr. Kate O’Neill had this to say: “As I begin my nineteenth fall semester and my seventh years as Director of UNM-Taos, I am still amazed at the freshness and uniqueness of each semester. This year alone, we celebrate new faculty, new advisors, new students, a new Dean of Instruction, a new President at main campus in Albuquerque and a fresh new commitment to our students and mission.”

O’Neill went on to say, quoting actor Edward James Olmos, that discipline, patience, perseverance and determination are the qualities that help answer the question, am I the best I can be?

An outstanding example of just how far discipline, patience, perseverance and determination can carry an individual or an entire program is the string of successes our Nursing Program has recently racked up. Eighteen months ago, when one hundred percent of the first graduating class passed their national boards the first time out, it could have been a one-time phenomenon. Then, this past spring, it happened again.

Program director Kathy Falkenhagen said, “It’s pretty unusual, to say the least, for that to happen twice, especially in a new program. The benchmark pass rate is eighty percent.

“A lot of factors contributed to this extraordinary track record,” Falkenhagen added, “but the main factor is the students themselves. This is a tribute to them. It’s not just about grades; it takes focus. They must be determined, well prepared at all times, and willing to make personal sacrifices to reach their goal. It requires discipline and maturity. It’s a serious, full-time commitment, but the payoff is phenomenal.”

“I also attribute the success of the students to the excellent faculty and the twenty clinical sites throughout the Taos area, and especially to our partnership with Holy Cross Hospital. They are a fantastic partner. The nursing administration, all support staff and Executive Director Peter Hofstetter are so supportive of our educational process. The hospital provides our clinical instructor and is our primary teaching site. They are always there for us. Of the nine graduates this year, all are already fully employed, six of them right here at Holy Cross. In addition, nine out of the ten graduates from the first cohort are still with Holy Cross eighteen months after graduation. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Then on August 8, after producing a 400 page self-study, undergoing a week-long site visit by the National League of Nursing and a review in Atlanta by an elite committee of seventeen deans and directors of nursing programs from around the country, the program was awarded full accreditation by the Board of Commissioners of the National League of Nursing.

“Accreditation is voluntary,” Falkenhagen explained. “You don’t have to do it; it’s expensive and a lot of work, but it’s a real plus for the graduates to be able to say that they graduated from an accredited school. National accreditation means that our program meets competencies and is on a par with every other program that has accreditation in the nation. With a license from an accredited institution a nurse can go anywhere in the country, or even internationally, and practice.”

If you would like to put your discipline, patience, perseverance and determination to the test, there’s still time to register for the Fall, 2012 Semester at UNM-Taos.

About The Bill Knief

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