Diligent efforts to enhance the graduate program within the University of Southern Mississippi School of Nursing have paid off with a $746,006 grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Health Resources and Services Administration.
Titled, “Preparation of Mississippi Nurses for 21st Century Health Care,” the three-year grant will support the development of a high quality, evidence-based, culturally appropriate graduate nursing curriculum delivered by distance learning technology that is reflective of changing population dynamics, yet flexible and portable to meet the needs of working nurse professionals.
Dr. Sheila Davis, associate director for Graduate Programs in Nursing at Southern Miss, serves as the grant project’s coordinator. Davis points out that given the advances in biomedical science and the complexity of the health care system, both a larger and more highly educated nursing workforce is needed. Among Mississippi nurses 73 percent have the associate degree as their highest nursing degree.
Davis said more emphasis must also be placed on developing a nursing workforce more representative of the population it serves. In Mississippi, the ethnic minority nursing student enrollment averages 25 percent, compared to an ethnic minority population of nearly 40 percent. One aim of the aforementioned grant is to increase the cultural diversity of graduate nurses.
Dr. Katherine Nugent, director of the School of Nursing, said the grant’s funding will enable the school to better meet the educational needs of practicing nurses in Mississippi to obtain a graduate degree through cutting edge technology that will increase access to coursework and faculty, thus allowing the nurses to continue to practice while obtaining their degrees.
“The ultimate outcome of the redesign of delivery of the graduate program is to graduate more masters-prepared nurses who can contribute to the health care of the rural and underserved population as nurse practitioners, nurse administrators and managers in health care settings and teaching in nursing programs which graduate new nurses,” said Nugent.
For more information about the School of Nursing at Southern Miss, call 601-266-5445.
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.