November 26, 2014  

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Nurse Anesthesia Program Elevates Southern Miss College of Nursing

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Excitement, expectation and achievement continue to mount for the College of Nursing at The University of Southern Mississippi.

As the Spring 2013 semester gets underway we are welcoming the inaugural class of the new Nurse Anesthesia Program. We are particularly proud of the fact that the Southern Miss College of Nursing is the first in Mississippi to offer a degree program in nurse anesthesia.

A total of 20 highly qualified students were chosen from a field of more than 60 applicants. This inaugural class endured an extensive interview process to earn a spot in the program. As I told them during orientation sessions earlier this month, “you are making history in the College of Nursing and will set the standard for all future students in this elite program.”

I listened intently as the students talked about their excitement of being able to achieve this educational dream at Southern Miss and their apprehension about the program’s rigorous workload. They are beginning an educational journey that will provide them with the competencies and knowledge needed to be certified as a nurse anesthetist, as well as, the skills to assume leadership in their practice area and in the health care arena.

This demanding program will include 36 months of study and conclude with the awarding of a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. The work will not be easy, but the payoff will be significant. Armed with a DNP, the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist can assume leadership positions in education, management and patient care.

The faculty in the College of Nursing worked diligently over the previous 18 months to blend the specialized curriculum into the existing Doctor of Nursing Practice plan of study to ensure that the students would have knowledge and skills necessary to be successful and provide an opportunity for the NAP students to interact with other Doctor of Nursing Advanced Practice students, thus creating a level of synergy among our future leaders in nursing.  

Under the guidance of NAP Director Dr. Vickie Stuart and Assistant Director Dr. Marjorie Geisz-Everson, these students will follow a curriculum that concentrates on quality assessment and improvement, health care systems and organizations, leadership, best evidence of practice, health policy and health care economics.

We are also delighted to partner with Forrest General Hospital in this new venture. Forrest General will serve as the primary clinical site for the students in the Nurse Anesthesia Program. Over the past 30 years, Hattiesburg has emerged as one of the leading medical communities in this part of the country. Forrest General has certainly played an important role in that distinction.

Since its founding in 1967 our College of Nursing has followed a solemn commitment to provide the best academic and clinical training for students who seek careers in the nursing profession.

Nurse anesthetists have been providing anesthesia care in the United States for nearly 150 years. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, nurse anesthetists are the oldest nurse specialty group in the United States.

What an amazing wave we are riding right now in the College of Nursing. This time last year the Southern Miss Foundation announced a fundraising campaign to construct a new nursing building on campus. The campaign began with a $4 million commitment from the Asbury Foundation for the building, which will be named Asbury Hall.

Last April we received IHL Board approval to restore our designation as the College of Nursing from the School of Nursing. This beginning phase of our new Nurse Anesthesia Program only further enhances the momentum that has been building for some time.

I can’t say enough about the commitment of our faculty that enabled us to obtain full accreditation for the Nurse Anesthesia Program, Doctor of Nursing Practice and reaccreditation of all our nursing programs. These accreditations demonstrate the validity of Southern Miss to provide quality programs across the board.

At the Southern Miss College of Nursing, “To the Top” represents more than just a university slogan. It will always be our intended destination.

  • Dr. Nugent is Dean of the College of Nursing at The University of Southern Mississippi.