New NMSU School of Nursing Director Combines Engineering, Nursing Background to Educate Students

Nursing and engineering don’t initially seem like they go hand in hand, but Alexa Doig has combined her experiences in the two fields into a career devoted to research, education and increasing the quality of patient care.

Alexa Doig is the new director of the School of Nursing at New Mexico State University’s College of Health and Social Services, and the Elisa E. and Antonio H. Enriquez Endowed Chair. She started at NMSU earlier this month after spending the last 15 years as a faculty member at the University of Utah.

Doig’s research background includes collaborating on NIH-funded, simulation-based research studies to evaluate the effects of an online training program in moderate sedation and a newly developed ICU display; examining nurse vigilance and decision making during patient monitoring; looking into the effects of work interruptions on novice nurse medication errors; developing and testing technology designed to help nurses triage clinical alarms in the hospital environment; and studying the biomechanics associated with fall risk among older adults with physical impairments.

College of Health and Social Services Dean Donna Wagner said the college is thrilled to have Doig on their team.

“Her background and expertise is an excellent addition to our college and we look forward to her contributions to the college, the university and our community partners,” Wagner said.

While Doig plans on keeping a program of research going at NMSU, her primary responsibility is to lead the School of Nursing.

“I’ve been passionate about helping pre-nursing students achieve their goal of getting into the nursing program and at the University of Utah developed a number of different programs for these students, including a pre-nursing learning community, an honors track in nursing, undergraduate research programs and health policy internships,” Doig said. “What drew me to NMSU is that the university shares my vision and commitment to student engagement and student success.”

Doig said that while attending high school and college, she was interested in medical school but also enjoyed math and physics. She ended up earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

After moving to the U.S., Doig discovered the expanded roles nurses and nurse practitioners have stateside and decided to explore her early interest in healthcare. She went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degrees and doctorate in nursing from the University of Utah.

Doig said she was attracted to NMSU because of its size, strong faculty and highly engaged student body. While at NMSU, Doig said she hopes to help address New Mexico’s nursing shortage by reaching out to area healthcare partners and community groups, and increasing collaboration with other university departments.

“In nursing we have faculty who are doing cutting edge genetics and other bench research, as well as making important discoveries in public health, health disparities, symptom management, patient safety, informatics and health services delivery, just to name a few areas,” Doig said.

“In addition, there are nurse faculty who are working to translate scientific knowledge through evidence-based practice or quality improvement work where we examine the impact and outcomes of applying the latest research discoveries in the practice setting,” Doig said. “We also have nurse faculty who are taking leadership roles in developing and implementing health and nursing education policy at the local, state and national levels. Through this work nursing plays a leading role in advancing the healthcare of individuals and populations at a national level and within our local communities.”