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UTEP creates neonatal nurse practitioner program to address shortage in region

EL PASO, Texas -- As hospitals make sure they have enough staff to take care of Covid-19 patients, they're also working to make sure other units are fully prepared to take care of those who need it, include their youngest patients.

UTEP is hoping to decrease the gap in neonatal care and have added a new neonatal nurse practitioner program.

The program is entirely online. You can get your master's degree, which is a two-and-a-half year program. For those who already have their masters, you can get a post certificate, which is only a one-year program.

Roberta Durk Gomez, program director, told ABC-7 the idea to start the program came together after a local physician pointed out the shortage to the university. 

After some research, UTEP found only three schools in the state of Texas even provide this kind of education. New Mexico does not have any programs that specialize in this field.

A recent survey also shows that neonatal nurse practitioners only make up two percent of all licensed nurse practitioners in the United States.

"For the nurses, to get that education, they would have to travel, do whatever they need to do to get into programs that are outside of El Paso," Durk Gomez said. "Once (the physician) brought that to us, and we started really researching it, it became more of a like, 'Yeah, we do need this program here to provide it for the El Paso community, as well as west Texas, (and) New Mexico.'"

Registration for the spring semester is closed.

However if you're interested in applying, UTEP is accepting applications for the fall. For more information on the program and how to apply, click here.

Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.

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