The University of New Mexico’s latest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Rural Health Nursing, is now open to students. This course is focused on people interested in the problems that face health care providers when resources are scarce or culturally inappropriate.

The course instructors, Professor Amy Levi and Assistant Clinical Professor Van Roper, both from the UNM College of Nursing, are co-teaching the course.

“Dr. Van Roper and I decided to start the course to share some of the valuable resources at the UNM Health Sciences Center that support rural health, and to particularly focus on nursing," Levi said. "As one of the most rural state in the U.S., we thought that we could represent the rural experience from both our personal and professional experience here in New Mexico.”

Levi teaches, has been a practicing midwife and consults on maternal child health and practice. She began her career as a rural health care nurse in Vermont and has worked in California, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Guatemala, Pakistan, Malawi and Tibet.

Roper has been in clinical practice for more than 20 years in rural, frontier and urban underserved populations in the southern U.S. and along the west coast. He is interested in rural health, clinical decision making, Native American health, homeless health care and health care systems.

Together, they have developed an eight-week course that will challenge their students to think about ways to overcome the barriers to health care facing their communities. The students will prepare a community assessment and put together a project to improve health care in their local communities. The course is designed to help students find ways to overcome the obstacles in their own communities.

So far, about half the students who have enrolled for the free course are from North America, 19 percent are from Europe and 18 percent are from Asia. The students represent more than 100 countries.

The Rural Health Nursing course is one of four MOOCs offered by UNM through Coursera this spring. The other courses are International Business I, which opens Feb. 16; Web Applications Architecture, which opens March 16; and , also opening on March 16. Two other courses, Curanderismo:Traditional Medicine, and Interactive Computer Graphics with Web GL are expected to open later in the spring.