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School of Nursing Wins Prestigious Nightingale Award PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Contact Van Arnold, 601.266.5568   

Dr. Katherine Nugent, director of the School of Nursing at The University of Southern Mississippi, credits her faculty’s dedication and commitment to providing a quality educational experience as key factors in the program winning the coveted Nightingale Award.

Presented annually by the Mississippi Nurses Association (MNA), the Nightingale Awards honor exceptional service in the nursing and health care industry in Mississippi. The Southern Miss nursing program took home the School of Nursing Award for the first time on Tuesday, March 2 during a black-tie gala held in Jackson, Miss.

“There are many things that give me pride about being associated with the nursing program at Southern Miss,” said Nugent. “Certainly, the history, tradition, legacy and resilience the program has demonstrated through various challenges while continuing to graduate nurses that have positively impacted all areas of patient health readily comes to mind.

“However, my greatest pride involves the resolve of our faculty to educate students and help provide them with the opportunity to be successful as practicing nurses, advanced practice nurses, nurse executives, nurse researchers and nursing faculty.”

The MNA hands out 13 other Nightingale Awards each year, including Nursing Administrator of the Year. Nugent received that prestigious prize last year.

“Dr. Nugent and her faculty and staff have done a superlative job of steadily creating the best nursing school in Mississippi,” said Dr. Michael Forster, dean of the College of Health at Southern Miss. “The coveted Nightingale Award validates their singular achievement.”

Dr. Rowena Elliott, associate professor in the Southern Miss School of Nursing, attended the Nightingale Awards ceremony. Like others associated with the Southern Miss program, she had no idea who would capture the Nursing School of the Year honor until the winner was announced.

“I was ecstatic when I heard that our School of Nursing was the recipient of the Nursing School of the Year award,” said Elliott. “I have been a member of the faculty for nearly two years and in my short time here I can say that the School of Nursing is truly deserving of this prestigious award.”

To qualify for the award, the Southern Miss School of Nursing had to meet stringent criteria, including the following:

*A detailed history of the organization
*A description of the organization’s most significant contribution to the healthcare industry and the nursing profession
Comments from graduates, employers of graduates and faculty
First-time NCLEX-RN pass rate for three years
Accreditation status
Activity of the nursing alumni organization
Contribution and involvement of the student organization in community activities
Graduation and retention rates
Innovation in teaching 

Dr. Kathleen Masters, associate professor in the Southern Miss School of Nursing, said the Nightingale Award reflects the tireless efforts of the nursing faculty and Dr. Nugent, in particular. 

“This award is a testament to the commitment from out faculty who work year after year to achieve the goal of educating nurses who are well prepared to care for the citizens of our community and state,” said Masters. “But it is also recognition of the outstanding leader we have in Dr. Nugent who continuously motivates faculty, staff and students within the School of Nursing to achieve what we have envisioned for our future.”

Currently, there are 424 undergraduates and 119 graduate students enrolled in the Southern Miss nursing program. Last year 178 students received their undergraduate degrees, while 34 completed the graduate program. The Southern Miss School of Nursing includes 44 full-time faculty; 12 part-time faculty and 13 staff members.

Dr. Lachel Story, assistant professor in the Southern Miss School of Nursing, points to innovation within the program as one of the primary factors that contributed to the Nightingale Award.

“The University of Southern Mississippi School of Nursing has visionary leaders and faculty who prepare stellar graduates to enter competitive graduate programs, advance the profession as well as impact the health of Mississippians and residents across the nation,” said Story. “As a graduate and faculty of this program, my pride abounds from this acknowledgement of our achievements.”

To learn more about the Southern Miss School of Nursing call 601-266-5445 or visit 

Dr. Katherine Nugent is director of the School of Nursing at The University of Southern Mississippi (Office of University Communications photo by Steve Rouse)

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
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