Gazebo Gazette

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has devised a unique plan to help combat the nation’s ongoing nursing shortage by offering an accelerated degree pathway through the University’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, Miss.

Pending full academic and accreditation approvals, this distinctive, accelerated pathway will help eligible students earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in a shorter time and decrease barriers to admission, while providing benefits to those who have already earned a higher education degree.

Students expected to enroll in this degree option will be eligible to bypass some typical BSN requirements because they have already earned a degree. Prospective applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

Dr. Lachel Story, Dean of USM’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, points out that the accelerated delivery format will be the only one of its kind in South Mississippi.

With the nation continuing to suffer from an unprecedented nursing shortage following the COVID-19 pandemic and USM’s traditional nursing program on the Hattiesburg campus consistently filled, the time seemed right to consider a coastal alternative that will meet the needs of a different student market that has recently emerged.

“We have been having conversations over the last year with our clinical partners and community stakeholders about how we can address the nursing shortage and meet the needs of the coastal community. This pathway was developed as a part of those conversations,” said Story.

Story notes that the curriculum is in final stages of development and review. Provided all academic and accreditation approvals are obtained on schedule, the application could open as early as this fall, with the goal of admitting the first cohort to begin next year. Once enrolled, students can expect to complete the accelerated pathway in as little as one year.

Earlier this year, online resource guide Nursingprocess.org, ranked USM as No. 1 for best accredited nursing schools in Mississippi. Housed within the College of Nursing and Health Professions, the nursing program has continued to raise the bar for excellence in education and clinical preparation.

Southern Miss nursing students put classroom theory into action at the state-of-the-art facilities and simulation labs, where students can focus on learning essential nursing competencies such as assessment, skills, and patient care.

Clinical rotations are scheduled at a range of local health care facilities throughout Central and South Mississippi. Through the forthcoming accelerated pathway, those rotations will include facilities along the Gulf Coast.

“The accelerated nursing option will provide a unique non-traditional path that will serve as an example of innovative programming that our Coastal Operations are becoming known for. Our goal is to continue to meet the needs of our citizens along the Gulf Coast region and across Mississippi,” said Dr. Steven R. Moser, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at USM.

Dr. Gordon Cannon, Vice President for Research at USM, noted a significant benefit for students who enroll in the accelerated option.

“In addition to helping alleviate the shortage in nursing professionals, this accelerated option will facilitate our students’ ability to get good paying jobs in health services throughout the state as well as the coastal region of Mississippi,” said Cannon.

To learn more about USM’s nursing program, call 601.266.5445 or visit: https://www.usm.edu/nursing-health-professions/index.php