Students who meet certain academic requirements may earn their Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing (BSN) while attending community college through a newly developed concurrent enrollment program with The University of Southern Mississippi School of Nursing.
The overall goal of the initiative is to increase the number of baccalaureate prepared nurses in the state, which currently stands at 29 percent. The majority of Mississippi nurses, 53 percent, have associate degrees as their highest level of education.
"There are students in community colleges who are studying to become nurses and already meet the academic requirements to enter our BSN program," said Dr. Kathy Masters, associate director for the School of Nursing at Southern Miss. "With this program, a student can take BSN courses from Southern Miss nursing professors without moving away from their community.”
Masters said the curriculum allows a student to earn a BSN in eight semesters including the required 32 hours from Southern Miss. After completing the program, he or she will graduate with a BSN degree from Southern Miss.
Southern Miss will collaborate with Meridian Community College to begin the program this year. "This is creating an opportunity for students who cannot go to the university for four years, to obtain a BSN and stay here locally," said Dr. Betty Davis, assistant dean of nursing at the Meridian Community College. "This also helps meet the needs of our health care community in providing more nurses."
According to Masters, who is the grant project director, this program is possible through a $153,757 grant award from the United States Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with recommended funding over three years of $480.999.
"We are very excited about the opportunity to offer a concurrent enrollment program with Meridian Community College," said Dr. Katherine Nugent, director of the Southern Miss School of Nursing and College of Health associate dean. "This collaborative effort will provide a creative model for nursing education in Mississippi, making it possible for students to attain a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Southern Mississippi without leaving their community. This is a win-win for the nursing profession and for education in Mississippi."
Advisement for Meridian Community College students who meet School of Nursing BSN requirements begins this fall. Masters said other area community colleges will also participate in the program beginning in the spring of 2009.
For more information about the Southern Miss School of Nursing concurrent enrollment program, call the Southern Miss School of Nursing at 601.266.5896.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.