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College of Health and Social Services

New Mexico State University

All About Discovery!

College Leadership Tilahun Adera, Ph.D. Academic Dean Joseph Tomaka, Ph.D. Associate Dean for Research Director Southwest Survey Research Center Donna Wagner, Ph.D. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Tina Hancock, Ph.D. Associate Dean and Director, School of Social Work Pamela Schultz, RN, Ph.D Associate Dean and Director, School of Nursing Enriquez Professor Mark J. Kittleson, Ph.D. Academic Head Department of Public Health Sciences

Our advisory board members: bottom row (from left), Leslie Smith, Claudia Saiz, Margaret McCowen and Denton Holmes. Top row (from left): Carol Smallwood, Paul Feil, Sabrina Martin and Ann Debooy. Board members Kay Cargill Jenkins, Mary Kay Papen (Emeritus), Suzanne Quillen (Emeritus), Amer Taha and J. Paul Taylor are not shown.

Jennifer Cervantes Assistant Dean for Development

Mission statement

Aida Lopez Director of Finance Beatriz Favela Program Operations Director, SoAHEC Jill McDonald, Ph.D. Director, Health Disparities Research Center Stan Fulton Chair

Advisory Board Ann Debooy Chief Nursing Officer, Memorial Medical Center Paul Feil, M.D. ABSM, Sleep Lab of Las Cruces Denton Holmes Consultant Kay Cargill Jenkins JD, BSN Atwood, Malone, Tuner & Sabin, PA Sabrina Martin COO Rehabilitation Hospital of S. NM

Dedicated to providing academic programs that address issues affect-

Table of contents

ing the quality of life in a rapidly

Dean’s message..................................1

Health and Social Services prepares

Spotlight on research and outreach....3

they need to make an impact in our

changing society, the College of our graduates with the knowledge

Gifts and grants.................................6

communities. Our programs focus

An important conversation................8

als, families and communities with

Innovation and advancement..........10

sciences and social work. Our Col-

on improving the lives of individumajors in nursing, public health

We salute our students.....................11

lege offers much to all students as


rooted in the land-grant tradition of

our commitment to this mission is

Spotlight on alumni........................14

New Mexico State University–excel-

Class notes......................................16


lence in education, research and

Margaret McCowen Consultant Mary Kay Papen (Emeritus) Senator, State NM Legislature Suzanne Quillen (Emeritus) CEO Advanced Care Hospital of S. NM Claudia Saiz COO Advanced Care Hospital of S. NM Carol Smallwood BCBS Az. Leslie C. Smith Federal Judge (Retired) Amer Taha Executive Director, Sigma Health Care, Inc. The Honorable J. Paul Taylor NM Representative (Former) Vitality is a publication of the College of Health and Social Services, New Mexico State University.

Editor: Philip Johnson.

About our cover Our cover features “NM Series,” the artwork of NMSU graduate student Kris Wilson. The colorful abstract series reflects the reaction of a Mississippi native to the striking topography of the desert southwest. “When I first moved to Las Cruces, I was completely astounded by the landscape,” Wilson recalls. “The ‘NM Series’ came from an attempt to familiarize myself with this new and beautiful environment.” “The Dripping Springs Natural Area was a big influence on these paintings. I would take multiple adventures up the mountain, make sketches, observe the surrounding, and then return to the studio to record my experiences in paint,” Wilson notes. “My aim was to convey the shapes and colors of the New Mexican landscape to my viewer from as many perspectives as I could through abstraction.” Wilson’s more recent work is a response to the “permanent evidence of impermanence that occurs in everyday life yet goes unobserved; such as wall scribbles that have been painted over or censored and other eyesores of urban society.” He explores the process of how the end result came into being through pushing and pulling the boundaries of color, shape and texture as well as the physical properties of the medium of paint.

Dean’s Message






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hanks to our hard-working students, dedicated faculty, diligent staff and generous donors, 2013 was very successful for CHSS. I’d like to touch on just a few of our outstanding achievements. Our nursing program students have, at this writing, a 94.73% NCLEX passing rate. In the fall of this year, the School of Nursing will introduce a family nurse practitioner specialization. Our generous community partner El Paso Electric made it possible for the School of Social Work to host a workforce development summit that initiated a discussion of how social work education can be more relevant to a community’s needs in times of change. The determination and commitment of our Department of Public Health Sciences faculty played an important part in the passage of Senate Memorial 63 by the New Mexico Senate. SM63 requests that every public post-secondary educational institution in the state implement a tobacco-free campus policy. In order to facilitate this change to a tobacco-free NMSU campus, Public Health Sciences received a $123,000

Important initiatives include investigating a possible link between osteoporosis and blood lead levels, and studying how technology can support behavioral change in order to better serve rural and underserved adult populations with chronic conditions. We appreciate the active support of our friends, donors and alumni. This essential support allows us to continue to provide our students with exceptional educational opportunities and equip them with the knowledge they need to make an impact in our communities. In 2014, as always, we aspire to discover solutions that will allow us to positively affect the quality of life for individuals in our region, state and nation. After all, “It’s All About Discovery!” grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. Also of note, the Southern Area Health Education Center continues to make great strides in providing health education through the “promotora” model for those living in the colonias and for the caretakers of the elderly who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Turning to research, our efforts are more intensive than ever.


Tilahun Adera, Ph.D. Dean College of Health and Social Services

Professorship honors family legacy


irector and Associate Dean his return, the couple settled into of the School of Nursing family life in Las Cruces. Pam Schultz, Ph.D., is Both of Archuleta’s parents the recipient of the Elisa E. and attended the luncheon celebrating Antonio H. Enriquez Endowed the creation of the professorship. Professorship. Schultz, who joined They were, characteristically, “exthe CHSS family in 2003, has long tremely humble,” said Archuleta. been involved in nursing research, “They were overwhelmed.” particularly in the areas of domestic Archuleta, who now lives in violence and abuse, cancer survivorAlabama, hopes that the profesship, equine-assisted psychotherapy sorship helps women achieve their and psychiatric nursing. She led own dreams. However, most of the development of our Doctorall, she means for it to be a way of Dean Adera and Pam Shultz visit with Nancy Archuleta and her father, Antonio Enriquez. ate in Nursing program and has commemorating her parents and been active with the New Mexico all that they did for their children. The professorship was created a decade ago Nursing Education Consortium in design“There are so many ways to honor our by Las Cruces native Nancy Archuleta and ing and coordinating a state wide nursing parents and loved ones with something lasther family in honor of her parents, Antonio curriculum. ing,” Archuleta said. She emphasizes that the and Elisa. Archuleta’s mother dreamed of “It’s quite an honor,” Schultz said of wingift is not about money, “but about underbecoming a nurse, but never had the chance. ning the award, adding that it will help to standing legacy and recognizing people who In 1942, she married a serviceman right befund her research. have sacrificed so much for us.” fore he left to fight in World War II. Upon Vitality


NMSU College of Health and Social Services


Spotlight on research and outreach Get the lead out


istorically, Americans have found ways to put lead in almost everything: gasoline, paint, film, pesticides, ceramic dishes, plumbing and, of course, ammunition. Exposure to this toxic metal can be almost as harmful as a bullet. It can cause cognitive decline, damage to the nervous system and kidney failure, among a host of other afflictions. Fortunately, efforts in recent decades have significantly lowered the average blood lead levels detected among residents of the U.S. Knowing this, School of Nursing Director and Associate Dean Pam Schultz, Ph.D., was surprised to read a study that found elderly

women suffering from osteoporosis had unusually high levels of lead present in their bloodstreams. Their bones, it turned out, had soaked up lead during childhood exposure. As the women aged, the stockpile of metal was deposited back into the bloodstream as bones deteriorated from the disease. Schultz realized that perhaps some cases of dementia and renal insufficiency in the elderly might actually be delayed lead poisoning. She has devised a study to test her hunch. Using machines similar to those used by diabetics to measure blood sugar, her team will gauge blood lead levels of lo-

cal women with osteoporosis. Meanwhile, the backgrounds of participants will be used to determine childhood lead exposure. Schultz suspects that many who grew up in the borderland area were exposed through such sources as the ASARCO smelter in El Paso, which operated for more than a century, only shutting down in 1999. If a link is established, it could be an important discovery. Though damage from lead poisoning is not always reversible, treatment is available. However, the most significant thing we might learn, said Schultz, is that adults need to be screened for lead.

I know why the caged rat squeaks


biological psychologist, finds them useful. “Their brains have all the same basic parts as human brains,” she points out. “And we’re both social animals.” Leedy’s recent studies focused on the effects of chronic stress, too much of which certainly can make humans feel like rodents. Curiously, most published murine research relies exclusively on male rats, but since human women show higher rates of depression than men, Leedy investigated only females. Scientists had assumed the way to induce stress on female rats was to place several together in a cage without males. Leedy’s experiment proved otherwise; cloistered females were content except for the usual distress of being caged. Instead, she found that a group of four females experienced chronic stress when caged with four males, who attacked both one another and the females in order to maintain a social hierarchy.


ats may seem unlikely subjects on which to conduct social work research, but Gail Leedy, Ph.D., a

When she examined the brains of the female rats, Leedy discovered shorter dendrites, a condition, indicative of depression, which in humans can lead to worse moods and loss of memory. The rats also exhibited subtle behavioral changes such as decreased desire to explore their environment and drink sweet water, behaviors that also suggest depression. When she gave the females an antidepressant in a second study, the drugs had no effect. These findings imply that high stress causes abnormalities of the brain, rather than the reverse, and that pharmaceuticals probably are not a solution. Leedy suspects equivalent environments in human society, such as the male-dominated military or economically stratified America, adversely affect our brains, especially those of women, who generally experience more stress. The ideal long-term solution is to change society, said Leedy. For now, we can only try to avoid such situations.

High stress causes abnormalities of the brain.

Studies of rats are helping us understand the effects of stress on humans.


NMSU College of Health and Social Services




he decay of mental prowess in our declining years is often dismissed as a natural part of the aging process, lumped in with graying hair and an increasing propensity to spoil children. However, this deterioration of cognitive ability is in reality a symptom of all-too-common maladies that plague the elderly, such as Alzheimer’s disease. As a result of this misconception, Alzheimer’s can go undiagnosed and behaviors associated with the disease–such as forgetfulness–can be frustrating for both the afflicted and their caregivers. To help address the problem, our Southern Area Health Education Center (SoAHEC) has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association of New Mexico to establish and fund Cuidando con Respeto–Caring with Respect. The program offers training to those assisting sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease and to those who worry a loved one might be exhibiting symptoms of dementia. Staff members delineate the different stages of the illness and offer tools to handle difficult behaviors in a sensitive manner. Emphasis is placed on reminding caregivers to care for themselves. Because discussing the disease can be difficult, trainers ease tension with a telenovela that depicts a woman with Alzheimer’s and the husband who lives with her. SoAHEC has both an English version and a Spanish translation. This enables the program to better reach underserved populations, who are less likely to be tested for the disease.

© Ian MacKenzie via

The old and the restless

CHSS is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Associaton of New Mexico to help caregivers cope.

“When you take care of a baby, you need to feed it–teach it to talk and walk and use the bathroom until the child can do those things on its own,” said Beatriz Favela, SoAHEC program operations director. Remarking on how Alzheimer’s can make sufferers just as helpless as babies, Favela said “[it] takes people backward [and] can take a person’s dignity completely.” Thanks to the Cuidando con Respeto program, more people will be able to spend their twilight years with their dignity intact.

Breaking good


certain recent television drama might lead one to believe methamphetamines are responsible for virtually every drugrelated death in New Mexico. The truth is that prescription medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone kill more people. Painkiller deaths in the state have skyrocketed over the past decade; overdoses are now estimated to kill a New Mexican every 17 hours. Yet addressing this very serious problem is only one of many concerns for Satya Rao, Ph.D., chair of the New Mexico Injury Prevention Coalition. The organization also works to raise awareness and combat harm inflicted by falls, guns, alcohol, suicide attempts, poor working conditions and domestic and child abuse. These efforts are crucial: a recent report indicated that New Mexico has the highest rate of injuryrelated deaths in America at 97.8 per 100,000 people, almost twice the national average. Rao believes injuries in the state are compounded by poverty as well as geographic distances that limit dissemination of information

and innovation. Therefore, her primary mission has been outreach. Members of the coalition have sought to increase public awareness by publishing articles in periodicals and by testifying at hearings. In addition, the coalition fosters partnerships with other groups, including the New Mexico Public Health Association and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. Coalition members have also increased engagement with state legislators to effect policy changes, which Rao believes to be vital for real advancement. “Progress is small and takes a long time,” she said. “But we’re going in the right direction.”

Fun Fact First Lady Grace Coolidge and Donna Wagner are both descendants of the Goodhue family, who came to America via Massachusetts in 1636.



NMSU College of Health and Social Services


Spotlight on research and outreach So healthy together


he first thing one notices at a health education event set up by Rebecca Palacios, Ph.D., and her team is an enormous inflatable human colon. The curious can step inside, where they discover that this pleasantly pink organ is marred by afflictions like polyps and Crohn’s disease. Displays detail factors that lead to colorectal cancer and encourage preventative habits such as healthy eating and drinking enough water. Educators inform visitors about clinics that offer free screening. Health fairs are just one component of the collaboration between NMSU and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC). The partnership, which dates back several years, was recently extended for five years by a $9 million U54 award funded by a National Cancer Institute program that focuses on underserved populations. NMSU Regents Professor Mary O’Connell, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, directs the team of researchers at NMSU. Palacios and Beti Thompson (FHCRC) and their team–Cancer Health Education Coordinator Janet Sanchez, MPH students Myra Lovas and Mario Gutierrez, BCH students Alyssa Andreis and Dylan Trujillo and HNFS student Christina Vaquera–will concentrate on outreach. They have three goals: • Promote regular cancer screen­ing to minority populations, who tend to receive late diagnoses and, as a result, poor prognoses. • Develop a training pro­gram on cultural sensitivity for medical providers so that patients will trust and properly adhere to medical advice.

The eight-foot tall inflatable colon, acquired through funding from the National Cancer Institute’s National Outreach Network, made its first public appearance in 2011.

• Forge additional partnerships between minority-serving community agencies and NMSU. The team will offer training in grant writing to these partners, who will in turn provide field experience for students. While her team currently targets only colorectal cancer, Palacios hopes that in the next few years they will expand to other screenable cancers such as breast and cervical cancer. “Many minorities think cancer means death,” she said. “We want to teach them that that’s not true, especially when cancer is caught in its early stages.”

Safe at home


NMSU College of Health and Social Services

concentrates on low-income families and at-home child care providers, including grandparents, teenaged parents and expectant mothers. It also reaches out to colonias, where vacant lots and standing water create myriad health issues. SoAHEC staff members developed a presentation that teaches seven basic tenets for a healthy home. Keep it: 1. dry 5. pest free 2. clean

6. hazard free

3. maintained

7. contaminant free

4. ventilated



At the end of each session, attendees receive kits containing informational packets, gloves, facemasks and ingredients (such as lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar) that can be used to create safe, effective and inexpensive cleaning solutions. Southern Area Health Education Center Director Beatriz Favela. © KAREN BUCHER


nyone can conjure up the nightmare of a car accident or an armed robber, but it is difficult to imagine being hurt by one’s own home. However, research shows a strong link between poor housing conditions and a variety of health troubles: a defective ventilation fan engenders mold, cardboard boxes lure cockroaches and common household cleaners such as Lysol can be as harmful as the grime they are intended to remove. Southern Area Health Education Center’s Healthy Homes is on a mission to make homes safer in southern New Mexico. The educational program, funded by the EPA,


ompared to her abusive ex-husband, the woman’s therapist was a giant. He stood over seven feet tall, his body swollen thick with muscle. An inadvertent movement could knock her to the ground. Yet after weeks together, she had learned to trust him. The feeling was mutual: when she approached, he whinnied. The woman was part of an equineassisted psychotherapy (EAP) program that aids victims of interpersonal violence. Her progress was monitored carefully by Wanda Whittlesey-Jerome, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Social Work. Whittlesey-Jerome was studying EAP’s effects against a control group who underwent traditional talk therapy. The results were impressive–after eight weeks, the women working with horses exhibited less depression, lower anxiety, increased self-efficacy and better overall functioning. Many made significant life changes, such as leaving abusive relationships. The technique works because horses are large and have their own social structure, said Whittlesey-Jerome.

“They’re not humans. You can’t boss them around or walk away,” she said. The horses have varying backgrounds– some are rescues or “gentled” wild mustangs, others are lent out by their owners. During therapy, people do not ride. Instead, a psychotherapist assigns a task, such as guiding the horse around an obstacle, and the patient must establish a relationship with the animal to solve the problem. “Trust underlies most personal issues,” said Whittlesey-Jerome. “That’s where the breakthrough happens.” Though horses can be costly, EAP is not an “elite intervention” since owners often volunteer their animals for a few hours– time that the horses, social creatures like humans, enjoy. The therapy is used to treat a wide range of populations, including the underserved, troubled teens, small children and returned soldiers. Whittlesey-Jerome envisions a holistic ranch run by the university where horses are just one part of an entire system of healing aimed primarily at military personnel and their families. The lagging


Therapy of a different color

Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies help people from all backgrounds and walks of life in a variety of ways.

economy has stymied development, but she remains hopeful. “It will take off someday,” she said. “We’re the Aggies, after all.”

For more information about EAP, go to

Aggie activities

Beti Thompson of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center meets with Public Health Sciences students.

The 2013 Nursing Reunion brought together lifelong friends. From left, Rosemary Hoffman, Elizabeth Moore, Fern Dahlgren, Jean Wertz and Karen Fee.



NMSU College of Health and Social Services


Gifts and Grants The gift of home


he spark was Anna. In 2011, Evelin “Approaching graduation and licensure and Joel Wheeler handed their daughter can be overwhelming,” she said. “Now I $500 to donate where she thought it have the information I need!” would do the most good. Anna, at the time an NMSU nursing student, had grown to love her university. The atmosphere felt collegiate and she appreciated the helpfulness and friendliness of faculty and staff. Determined to “pay it forward,” she decided to give the money to the School of Nursing. The Wheelers took note and followed suit, creating a professional development seminar for 7th- and 8th-semester nursing students. The seminar affords students the opportunity to meet with executives from Anna Yourstone, center, with her parents, Evelin and Joel Wheeler. area healthcare organizations to learn more about hiring practices and how to However, when Evelin heard the School best navigate the market. of Nursing had absorbed many of the nursThe first seminar, in the spring of 2014, ing students from Doña Ana Community was very well received. Student Emily College she decided she wanted to do even Watts appreciated the panel discussion more. with hiring managers and the opportunity “We’ve been very fortunate in our lives,” to network. Evelin said. “We feel it’s important to help

other people.” The Wheelers sold a rental home they owned in Albuquerque and donated the proceeds–$80,000–to the School of Nursing. Some of their generous gift will go toward the Yourstone-Wheeler Development Fund, which supports faculty professional development, but most will be used to fund merit-based scholarships for nursing students. “Money makes an impact,” said Evelin. “It’s sustainable and creates a foundation. It gives the students a way to have a decent life and helps their kids, too. It has a ripple effect.” The Wheelers have since made an additional contribution of $9,000 to the Yourstone-Wheeler Scholarship. Anna graduated in 2011 and now works as a clinic nurse at the Alamo Navajo Health Center. She is proud of her parents’ gift, noting that they are “giving back to the state and supporting my favorite university.”

Vital training


he Family and Child Welfare Training Project, run by Camille Hancock, was awarded four grants, enabling it to continue important training work. The largest of the grants, Title IV-E, is for $1.5 million and has two components. The first component supports the Child Welfare Scholar program, a partnership with the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department that provides a scholarship for current NMSU students in the field of social work and allows them the opportunity for hands-on experience. Scholarship recipients agree to work in the CYFD for one or two years after graduation in programs such as Child Protective Services and are encouraged to stay on after their


NMSU College of Health and Social Services

contract expires. The second component of the grant funds state-wide additional training for current CYFD staff such as parents, judges and volunteers. The remaining grants fund other important training. Title IV-B confers approximately $400,000 over a four-year period and will be used to teach providers various CYFD skills. A third award is through the state’s Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and the last finances an annual conference–offering coaching in life skills



such as budgeting, cooking and applying for jobs–for young people who have aged out of foster care at age sixteen.

Fun Fact Susan Wilson competed in ice dance with Greg Jenkins, who later married Olympic gold medalist Peggy Fleming.

Lighting our way


hanks to a generous contribution from El Paso Electric, two important new projects are underway. The School of Social Work will hold its first Workforce Development Summit, designed to stimulate thinking and progress in how universities prepare students

Aggie Activities

for workforce development needs in integrative health care. Southern Area Health Education Center is teaching residents of colonias how to make their homes more energy efficient and safe. We are grateful for such generous community partnerships.

A little help from my friends


hen Judge Les Smith and his wife, Judy, heard that nursing students had dropped from the program due to financial difficulties, they decided they couldn’t sit idly by. They had close connections to nursing–their daughter and granddaughter are nurses. Judge Smith and his wife donated $10,000 to create the Smith Current Use Emergency Fund, which aids students who are struggling financially. The couple also agreed to match any additional contributions up to $5,000. Community members rose to the challenge, and all the money was raised in the time stipulated. Judge Smith said, “It will help our students, especially young single moms who work, attend school and raise children. I think we can all feel a little bit better about having more nurses in the world.” Assistant Dean Jennifer Cervantes praised the Smiths’ ongoing commit-

Hannah Uhl at the 2013 School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony; our graduating classes routinely achieve a nearly 95 percent pass rate their first time taking the national licensure examination—well above the national average of 85 percent.

Judge Les Smith and his wife Judy.

ment to the College. “The Smiths are true champions of this college and inspire others,” Cervantes said. “When I shared the exciting news of their gift with Advisory Board Chair Carol Smallwood, she was inspired to create one of her own in Public Health Sciences.” Ms. Smallwood has also endowed a PHS scholarship honoring her mentor, John B. Savage.

Emma Orta and Kelsi Phillips at the School of Social Work’s 2014 Field Day Exchange.

The gift of knowledge


HSS, in partnership with the University of New Mexico, received a mini-grant of $9,000 through the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange to support outreach to the student body about the details and consequences of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The money will be distributed to three student groups–the Student Ambassadors, the Public Health

Student Organization, and the Student Nurses’ Association–whose members will coordinate with Southern Area Health Education Center to educate their fellow students on this important new law. SoAHEC Program Operations Director Beatriz Favela said the student groups from CHSS and SoAHEC are “the perfect fit for this type of education and outreach.”

Our students help get the word out on campus about the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange.



NMSU College of Health and Social Services


An important conversation It’s time to talk about the end of life


An important conversation is missing in our culture. In a recent issue of the American Journal of Public Health (June 2013), researchers suggest that end-oflife care issues are a public health crisis with implications for both our economy and our families. One of the drivers of this crisis, the authors posit, is the more than 70 million “baby boomers” heading into late life. Some ailing boomers are kept alive against their wishes with extraordinary and expensive medical procedures. Why? Because an advance directive is not in place to guide health Wagner care professionals and family members (only about one-third of adults in the U.S. have completed an advance directive). However, the tide may be turning. In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize choice at the end of life. Terminally ill patients who have been seen by two physi-

came face to face with death in the 1950s when I was seven years old and my parents took me to visit my grandfather at the hospital. Because children weren’t allowed inside, I was sat down on the grass directly below my grandfather’s room. My dad walked my grandfather to the window of his fifth floor room so that I could see him. I waved, he waved. Our family didn’t talk about death so I didn’t know this was the last time I would see him, although I remember sensing something significant was taking place. He died two days later. Children didn’t go to funerals back then, at least not in my family. I stayed home with a babysitter. Even so, this experience was still better than that of my husband, who had to wait in the car while his parents attended his grandfather’s funeral. Today, children visit hospitalized relatives and attend funerals, but the discourse around death remains limited. Hospice programs are available to help dying patients and their families accept and plan for death, yet these plans are often ignored. While most people say they would like to die at home, only one in five actually do so. The majority die in hospitals or other health-care facilities–an expensive and impersonal setting. To make matters even worse, surveys of relatives and friends of deceased hospital patients indicate that many had not been warned that their loved one might die, and few were provided support in coping with death’s repercussions.

Researchers suggest that end-of-life care issues are a public health crisis. 8

NMSU College of Health and Social Services



cians and are free of certain mental health conditions can qualify for a lethal prescription. Many never use it. Since the law’s inception, a little more than a thousand patients received the medications, but only 60 percent chose to take them. Although assistance in dying for the terminally ill continues to be a very controversial, many states are debating the matter and considering making this assistance a legal option. As a result of a December 2013 court decision, New Mexico may become the fifth state to allow physician-assisted death. In issuing the decision–supported by the ACLU, Compassion and Choices, and the New Mexico Psychological Association–Second Judicial District Judge Nan Nash wrote: “This Court cannot envision a right more

How to be your own best advocate fundamental, more private or more integral to the liberty, safety and happiness of a New Mexican than the right of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying.” If this decision is challenged in court and affirmed, New Mexico will join Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana as states permitting “death with dignity” options. Aging Americans are challenging some of the lessons they learned about death in childhood. Many are ensuring their children and friends know what they want when the end comes. “Death dinners” are occurring around the country as a venue for sharing preferences, fears and hopes about the end of life. Although you may not choose to host a “death dinner,” it is still a good idea to start the conversation with family members. Think about your own preferences for the end and share your wishes with your adult children and your friends. Doing so is a gift–you are empowering them to respect your wishes and to make sure health professionals and social service providers adhere to them as well. Such a conversation not only increases the chance that your death will be managed on your own terms, it could also avert grief for your surviving family–disagreements during an emotionally charged time can become the basis of enduring conflict. Carrying out a loved one’s wishes provides a satisfying, proactive role for survivors in one of the most important transitions any of us will experience. Download the free advance directive form which is available in every state of the nation. Fill it out and share it with your family. If you’re not comfortable having a protracted discussion, just copy and distribute it. You’ll be glad you did and your family will understand that this is an important gift to them. Within New Mexico, there are many places to get advance directive forms including the New Mexico Bar Association (


ho is the best advocate when you or a loved one is in the hospital? The answer is simple: you are! You do not have to be a medical professional–you just need to know what questions to ask and what guidelines to follow. Here are a few tips to help you be an effective advocate. Once the decision is made for you or your loved one to be admitted to the hospital, ask these questions:

they are completely recuperated. º If you are not up to having company, tell your nurse; she/he can let visitors know that it is not a good time.

What is the diagnosis? üWhy is the patient being admitted?

What is the plan of care? üWhat tests will be done? üWhat surgeries are planned? üWhat medications will be started and why? üWhat medications will be stopped and why?

What is the plan for pain control? üPatients are asked to rank pain on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the worst pain you can imagine). It’s important to know what a tolerable level of pain for you is. Zero is not always achievable, so what is tolerable?

Do you have a living will and/ or durable power of attorney? üHave you discussed “do not resuscitate (DNR)”? It’s best to start thinking about this well in advance. What do you want done? Talk to your family, your doctor. Plan ahead. In the hospital room: • Ask visitors and family to wash their hands. • It is also fine to ask health care professional to wash their hands. º The antibacterial gel provided in hospital rooms is fine to use. • If would-be visitors are not feeling well, they should be asked to stay away until

• When you are being given a medication, ask what the medication is. º If you are unfamiliar with the medication, ask what it is for–this is an opportunity to educate yourself. º Pain medications may make you forgetful; it is OK to ask for the information in writing so you can read it when you are more alert. • As soon as you are able, get up and out of bed. º Always ask your nurse if you should get out of bed with assistance or not. º Getting up to a chair is just as important as walking (if that is what the doctor ordered.) • Do NOT take any medications from home unless the nurse and the doctor has approved it. • Do NOT eat or drink outside food unless the nurse tells you it is ok. Remember, you are your best advocate while in the hospital. Health care professionals encourage you to ask questions and be involved in your care.


Lynn Arnold BSN ’83

Donna L. Wagner, Ph.D. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Vitality


NMSU College of Health and Social Services


Innovation and advancement

Nursing faculty members from New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico collaborated on the development of curriculum that would standardize the requirements for nursing degrees within the state of New Mexico.

A common cause


uring a meeting of nursing faculty members from NMSU and UNM in 2009, an idea took hold: the importance of a common curriculum that would standardize the requirements for nursing degrees within New Mexico. As a result, the New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium (NMNEC) formed, with the mission to develop a “resource-efficient and unified system of accessible, innovative, and stateof-the-art nursing education.” Implementation of such a system promises to offer increased freedom to students,

who will be able to take early nursing classes at community colleges before enrolling in advanced courses at NMSU or UNM. Although students might choose to forgo some classes and earn an associate’s degree, the flexibility of the program should increase the number of nursing students graduating with bachelor’s or graduate degrees. This, in turn, will improve access to health care in the state and create a more diverse workforce. The new curriculum is unique in that it is concept-based rather than the more traditional disease-based. While the latter

teaches students to treat specific ailments, the former focuses on broader concepts such as circulation and oxygenation. It will better prepare students for the workplace. The common curriculum has already been determined; however, the details of its implementation are still being negotiated. Adaptation is voluntary; even so, Governor Susana Martinez and the New Mexico state legislature are in favor of wide implementation. NMSU is scheduled to adapt the program in the fall semester of 2014.

to ensure it meets national standards for advanced nursing education and for graduates to be eligible for certification in their specialty. Official notification of accreditation status is expected in the fall of 2014. “The need for more advanced practice nurses to help deliver quality health care services in New Mexico is especially acute

as more people obtain health care insurance under the provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act,” School of Nursing Associate Director for Graduate Programs Teresa Keller, Ph.D., said. In other School of Nursing news, a family nurse practitioner specialization will be introduced in the fall of this year.

Advanced nursing


he School of Nursing has completed an accreditation review for the Doctorate in Nursing Practitioner (DNP) program, designed to prepare advanced practice nurses in the specialties of psychiatric/mental health care, adult health/gerontology primary care and community/public health. Accreditation for the DNP program is necessary


NMSU College of Health and Social Services



Center of attention


fter his team noticed that New Mexican agencies conducting surveys were employing research companies based in other states, Associate Dean for Research Joe Tomaka, Ph.D., decided that NMSU could provide the same services: the work would be a perfect fit for the university’s land-grant mission of serving the state of New Mexico. Thus, the Southwest Survey Research Center was born. The center, which recently entered the operational phase, will provide myriad services,

including questionnaire design, sampling, statistical analysis, interviewing and Spanish/ English translation. Its purpose, says Tomaka, is to assist researchers and be a resource for the university and the community. Tomaka predicts the center will be used not only for health-related research, but also in the fields of political science, business and marketing. “This is meant to be a comprehensive center,” Tomaka said. “We are here to assist researchers with all aspects of the design of surveys.”

Associate Dean for Research Joe Tomaka, Ph.D., oversees the Southwest Survey Research Center. Part of its mission is academic, providing students with opportunities to learn about survey research.

We commend our students


HSS student organizations enrich college life and help students develop leadership skills. Shown are just four. Others include: Student Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau (Pi Omega NMSU Chapter), Student Social Work Association, Graduate Student Social Work Association (Las Cruces Campus), Phi Alpha Kappa Omega Honor Society, Eta Sigma Gamma and NAMI.

Graduate Student Social Work Association - Albuquerque Center

Public Health Student Organization

Voice Against Cancer Student Organization

Student Ambassadors



NMSU College of Health and Social Services


Newsworthy MMC salutes a history of excellence


e are partnering with the NMSU art department to develop a 3-D wall honoring the history of the School of Nursing. The wall, which will be on the first floor of the CHSS building, will feature important milestones and pioneers of the program as well as donated artifacts such as textbooks, medical equipment and uniforms. The steering committee for the project is made up of retired faculty and other friends of the school. They want the wall to be visually appealing and interactive, with looped slideshows interspersed with video interviews that students can listen to through earphones. The first of its kind in the college, the wall is made possible thanks to a generous gift from a longtime friend of CHSS, Memorial Medical Center (MMC). The donation is also funding faculty development for assistance with teaching, research, scholarship and creative activities. “MMC has been very supportive. Their generosity is appreciated,” said Associate Dean and School of Nursing Director Pam Schultz, Ph.D. MMC Director of Marketing Mandy Leatherwood said, “MMC

Endowed chair named


ill McDonald, Ph.D., was named to the Stan Fulton Endowed Chair in Health Disparities Research at New Mexico State University. She will also serve as the director of the Southwest Center for Health Disparities Research. McDonald is a former official of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

In August of 2012, our School of Nursing welcomed 73 nursing students from Doña Ana Community College. They have excelled. At this writing: • 8 have graduated with a Bachelor’s in Nursing • 19 are in their eighth and final semester • 37 are in their seventh semester • 7 are in their fifth or sixth semester • 2 have withdrawn–one because of a family illness, one for medical reasons. NMSU College of Health and Social Services

is proud to be a part of the NMSU Nursing Wall of Excellence project. It is important to recognize the history of a program as we build and look to the future. We are proud of our partnership with NMSU through the years, and we look forward to continuing our rich history together.” The college plans to unveil the display in the fall of 2014. If you have items you’d like to donate, please email Courtney Lopez at

Mental health on campus


DACC nursing students excel


Members of the steering committee for the commemorative 3-D wall include (from left) Virginia Higbie, Corine Breedlove, Pat Hippo, Rosemary Hoffman, Jean Cervantes and Warren Noland. Not pictured: Jacalyn Ryberg, Betty Harris, Lynn Arnold, Marilyn Pase, Joy Mynatt, Teresa Leon and Fern Dahlgren.



illions of Americans are affected by mental illness. To address the mental health needs of students at NMSU, Ruth Burkhart, faculty advisor and college assistant professor in the School of Nursing, has joined forces with nursing students Yvonne Aguilera and Jennifer Greene to spearhead a new chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI is a grassroots organization that provides advocacy, education and support for those affected by mental illness. Charged with providing students with such resources as written materials, support groups and educational aids, the new chapter has already started coordinating with other groups on campus– including the Wellness, Alcohol and Violence Education Program–as well as local organizations that provide services to individuals with a mental illness. For more information, email Ruth Burkhart at

Q&A: Should we be tobacco free?


n March 2013, State Senator Joseph Cervantes (D-31) introduced, and the New Mexico senate passed, Senate Memorial 63. It requests that every public post-secondary educational institution in the state implement a tobacco-free campus policy. Associate Professor Susan Wilson, Ph.D., who is leading the effort to bring about the recommendation at NMSU (with the help of a grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation), answered questions about the policy, anticipated to go into effect January 1, 2015.

Q: Why should NMSU go tobacco free? A: The university seeks to provide a clean and healthy environment for all students, employees and visitors. A tobacco-free campus policy will protect people from unwanted and involuntary exposure and will also promote cessation. It will create a supporting environment for those who are Wilson trying to quit, create a cleaner environment and reinforce a tobacco-free cultural norm. Tobacco-free policies have also been shown to be effective in decreasing smoking rates and preventing the initiation of tobacco use.

Q: Are tobacco-free campus policies now the national standard? A: Yes. Universities throughout the U.S. are increasingly going tobacco free. Though the number changes rapidly, at this writing at least 792 universities nationwide are now entirely tobacco free, and an additional 358 are 100 percent smoke free.

Q: Is there evidence that the NMSU community wants a tobacco-free environment?

A: Yes. Results of a campus survey/petition conducted in the fall of 2012 indicated that 71 percent of the more than 1,000 students, faculty and staff responding believe NMSU should be tobacco free.

Q: Does the proposed policy include smokeless and/or spit tobacco? A: Yes. Smokeless tobacco can lead to oral cancers, gum disease and increased nicotine addiction. Snuff and snus (a moist powder tobacco product) have been found to increase the risk of cancer, stroke and fatal cardiovascular disease. Approximately 12 percent of New Mexico’s youth chew tobacco or use snuff; this is higher than the national statistic. Adolescents who use spit tobacco are more likely to become cigarette smokers. Q: Will students, faculty and staff be required to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco? A: No. However, they will be required to use all tobacco products off NMSU-owned grounds and properties. Anyone wanting to break the habit should call the New Mexico Quitline for help at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Additional information can be obtained at the NMSU TobaccoFree website:

Aggie Activities

NMSU President Garrey Carruthers, Ph.D.; Jessica Spohn, coordinator, Sexual and Gender Diversity Resource Center; Advisory Board member Carol Smallwood; CHSS Dean Tilahun Adera, Ph.D., and Public Health Sciences Academic Head Mark Kittleson, Ph.D., at the 2013 Distinguished Alumni and Scholarship Reception.

Beatriz Favela, Kristynia Robinson and Cynthia Kratzke received a $50,000 sub-award grant funded by the National Institutes of Health through the Mountain West Research Consortium.



NMSU College of Health and Social Services


Spotlight on Alumni Our 2013 Distinguished Alumna: Margaret McCowen


argaret Ruth McCowen is part of a long Aggie legacy. Her paternal grandfather, Henry Crecilius McCowen, graduated from New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1912 and served as one of the initial editors of the student newspaper, The Round Up. Her mother, father, brother and sister are all Aggie graduates as well, each making valuable contributions to their fields. Aggie pride and the value of education were instilled at an early age. Like her parents, McCowen was born and raised in Las Cruces. A self-proclaimed “well-adjusted” middle child, she was fortunate to be surrounded by a large and loving extended family. At NMSU, McCowen joined the Chi Omega sorority and she was a Sun Carnival Princess. After earning her bachelor’s degree in social welfare in 1971, she went on to earn her Master of Science in Social Work at the University of Texas, Arlington, and her MBA at the University of New Mexico. She married Rafael Serna in 1983. Three years later, the couple welcomed daughter Ana Patricia Serna. When Rafael passed away in 1987, McCowen moved from Texas back to New Mexico to be

close to family. As a single mother, she worked hard to balance her personal and professional life while imparting the values of hard work, dedication and passion to her daughter. Ana enrolled at NMSU and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration; she is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology. McCowen has had a long and distinguished career in the fields of social work and mental health. She has held many leadership positions in non-profit, government, educational and private sector organizations, including child protective services, juvenile justice and mental health.

It’s always fun to return to campus.

CHSS Dean Tilahun Adera, NMSU President Garrey Carruthers and NMSU Provost and Executive Vice President Dan Howard congratulate Maggie McCowen.


NMSU College of Health and Social Services



To help future students, she established the McCowen Behavioral Health Leadership Endowed Scholarship. McCowen is also working with the School of Social Work on a statewide training initiative for New Mexico’s four managed care organizations. This will help prepare the workforce for an expanded health and mental health service delivery system. McCowen enjoys celebrating birthdays with family and friends, exercises, and cheers on the Aggies at football and volleyball games. She loves road trips and shopping, and is particularly fond of Nordstrom in San Diego. About NMSU, McCowen said, “It’s important to the University’s teaching mission for alumni to connect and inform [faculty and students] about real work experience in their disciplines.” “This process takes place in the classroom, in committee work that affects the direction and focus of the University, and in financial contributions that strengthen the University’s ability to provide quality education,” she said. “Also, it’s always fun and personally validating to return to campus, and to interact with NMSU leadership and students–fellow Aggies!”

Health care phones home


hen Amer Taha, an NMSU graduate who received the CHSS Distinguished Alumni award in 2004, founded Sigma Health Care a little more than a decade ago, he decided to utilize telehealth–health care services delivered via telecommunications–to ensure quality home care. However, the necessary equipment was prohibitively expensive. Available systems utilized specially made devices that were extremely costly and often overly complicated. The devices also required a host of employees to contact patients or review recorded data, time-intensive tasks that negated the advantages of the technology. Taha decided to invent a better system. He named it Telehealth 360. “I wanted something that costs little for both the provider and the patient,” he said. “The value is in the data, not in the gadgets.”

inexpensive, off-the-shelf equipment). An automated voice produced by the software can ask patients questions, record complaints or remind them to take medications. If the program detects anything unusual, it sends a secure alert to a clinician for immediate care intervention. The result is fewer hospital visits and reduced care costs. The system also prevents health decline and encourages patients to take better care of themselves, leading to better quality of life. It may even have unintended benefits: one elderly patient said she looks forward to calls from the automated voice, whom she named Tom–it makes her feel less lonely. Taha thinks his software will catch on, despite the industry’s push toward expensive devices. Three quarters of America’s medical costs are due to chronic disease, he asserts. Inexpensive, practical ideas like Telehealth 360 are crucial.


The only gadget needed for Telehealth 360 is a telephone. A computer at a medical facility running the Telehealth 360 software calls patients, who then self-report readings such as blood sugar level, body weight and blood pressure (measured with

Aggie Activities

Fun Fact Philip Johnson danced the Salsa on an episode of the South Korean drama Big Thing.

Dean Adera with the CHSS delegation at the 2013 Health Symposium on the Affordable Care Act.



NMSU College of Health and Social Services


Class notes 1970s Maggie McCowen, Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare ’71 Debra Hagler, Associate in Nursing ’80, BSN ’82 Married for 31 years to fellow Aggie James Hagler ’82, ’85 1980s Lynn Arnold, Associate in Nursing ’81, BSN ’83 Director of Memorial Medical Center’s Cancer Program, Las Cruces, NM. Susan Kinkade, Associate in Nursing ’82, BSN ’84 Married Randy Kinkade in 1990 Tucson Fabulous 50 Nurse Ann Emery, BSW ’83 Was hired at William Beaumont Medical Center to be a member of the military’s

first HIV-Aids team. Gerre Ann Fiore, Associate in Nursing ’86 Gerre received her BSN (currently working on her MSN) at KSU and is employed at the medical center there as an ICU charge nurse. Joann Schorr, Associate in Nursing ’87 Married May 1995, Children: Janelle (June 1996), James (August 2000) Jean Wertz, BSN ’89 Married to the late Paul Wertz for 59 years. Three children: Stephanie FallCreek-Tillman, Judy James, Katie Allnutt 1990s Irene Zamora, Associate in Nursing ’90, BSN ’92, MSN ’00 Became a grandma to gorgeous granddaughter Sophia in August 2013.

Sharon Huerta

Sharon Huerta, MSW ’95 Sharon is the vice president of Medicaid Operations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.M.; as such, she is responsible for the implementation and oversight of Centennial Care for BCBS N.M. BCBS N.M. is one of the four managed care organizations contracted to perform this work. Sharon’s role is of great significance as the ACA touches every life in America. A true Aggie, Sharon remembers, with deep gratitude, her experience at NMSU.

Tracy Brannock Dr. Elizabeth Lopez Murray

Katy Good

Betty Jean Shinas, BSW ’91, MSW ’92 NMSU Alumni Chapter President for the School of Social Work Married to Thomas Shinas for 41 years Lena M. Tucker, Bachelor of Community Health ’93 (graduated at age 62) Married to the late Jim Tucker for 62 years Cheryl Lombardi, Associate in Nursing ’93, BSN ’06, MSN ’08 Currently a DNP student at NMSU NMSU College Assistant Professor of Nursing Married Louis Lombardi in 1986; son born in 1998 Gina Orozco, BSN ’97 Obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering. She is now the director of engineering at the Air Force Data Facility - Southwest (ADF-SW). Anne Eighinger, Associate in Nursing ’97 Attended NMSU while her husband was stationed at Holloman AFB. Amy Yost, BSN ’98 Married Nathan Yost December 1997 Three children: Cade (August 2000), Bailey (March 2003), Seth (March 2005)

Jennifer Johns Donovan

Terri Fortner Mary Vance

Jennifer donkey p


Jaclynn (Johnson) Pratt Maggie McCowen

Jared Rounsville, MSW ’99 A Licensed Independent and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Jared has worked for CYFD Protective Services since 1999. He and his wife, Darlene, have been married for nearly 20 years and have five wonderful children. 2000s Amanda Rose (Kindler) Trout, MSW ’00 Son Coby born February 1998 Tracy Brannock, Bachelor of Community Health ’00, MPH ’03 Joined the United States Air Force in August 2007 as a public health officer. Awards: National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, two Air Force Accommodation Medals, an Air Force Achievement Medal, and a Humanitarian Service Medal. Selected as the Biomedical Sciences Company Grade Officer of the Year for Air Force Global Strike Command. Married a B-52H Stratofortress electronic warfare officer in December 2008. Dr. Elizabeth Lopez Murray, MPH ’03 Married to Lorne W. Murray Marshall Neel, Bachelor of Human and Community Services ‘05 “Without the curriculum and degree program at NMSU, I would not be where I am today and would not have had this opportunity to make such a positive impact on public health as an integral part of community development.”

Irene Zamora

Jared Rounsville

Jean Wertz

Betty Jean Shinas

Katy Good, BSN ’06 Husband, David Good, BSN ’06 Married in May 2005 Children: Griffin (August 2007), Rozlyn (December 2009), Soren (December 2012). Invited to speak at the national ACDIS conference in May 2014.

Mary Vance, Ph.D. in Nursing ’12 Married in August 1974 Three children, one grandchild Family Nurse Practitioner for United Health Care.

Jennifer Johns Donovan, Bachelor of Community Health ’06 Served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras from 2008-09 Married JJ Donovan September 2010 Welcomed daughter, Campbell, September 2012 Emily Goldsmith, BSN ’07 Attending UNM School of Nursing and working toward her CNP. Terri Fortner, MSN ’09 Has served on the N.M. Board of Nursing since 2007 and was re-elected as board chair in June 2013. Was given an award for the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women.

In Memory: Jo Hill We were saddened to learn of the death of our friend and colleague Jo Hill, an educator for an astounding 50 years. She was one of the original three professors–and the only woman–who founded CHSS. A member of an Oklahoma tribe, Hill was devoted to working with Native American populations, especially in the field of gerontology. The health science honors society Eta Sigma Gamma has introduced a teaching award named after her. College Assistant Professor Karen Rishel, Ph.D., who developed a close relationship with her, remembered Hill as “one of those phenomenal people you meet. If you met her, you knew why she succeeded.”

2010s Anna Yourstone, BSN ’11 Dedicated to Native American Care. Jaclynn (Johnson) Pratt, BSN ’11 Married James Jeffery Pratt October 2013 Erica A. Montoya, MSW ’12 Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) National Certified Guardian (NCG)

Jennifer Johns Donovan playing a game of donkey polo during her Peace Corps service.



NMSU College of Health and Social Services


College of Health and Social Services

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MSC 3446 New Mexico State University P.O. Box 30001 Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001

All About Discovery! SP/4-14/20794

Through mentorship and scholarship, I have been provided with

opportunities and resources needed to succeed. The College of Health and Social Services is a great place to discover who you are and prepare for a rewarding career! Rylie Hightower Class of 2014 (December) 2013-2014 recipient, The Amanda Lopez Endowed Nursing Scholarship

Please support the College of Health and Social Services Your gift is important regardless of size! Contact Jennifer Cervantes at

Stay connected! If you’re an alumnus interested in remaining engaged with the College, contact Courtney Lopez at

NMSU CHSS Magazine  
NMSU CHSS Magazine