(Photo by Joe Ellis/UMMC Photography with Ole Miss News)
Ole Miss and UMMC playing a major role in efforts across Mississippi to increase nurses in the state.
Earlier this year, the Mississippi Legislature approved the Nurse Retention Loan Repayment Program which officially launched in early August and is now accepting applications. The program is intended to help the state retain new nurses by assisting them pay back their student loans.
Now, a new educational option is opening in North Mississippi to attract students to the nursing profession.
On Monday, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) announced an expansion of its Oxford offerings to include a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program next year.
According to Ole Miss, the school has been awarded a $750,000 grant from AccelerateMS through the state’s Office of Workforce Development to reinstate the traditional BSN pathway at the School of Nursing’s instructional site in Oxford.
The grant from AccelerateMS is in addition to $4 million appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature during the 2023 legislative session to the University of Mississippi for repair, renovation and expansion of the nursing school in Oxford.
“Programs like the Bachelor of Science in Nursing at UMMC are crucial to strengthening the pipeline of qualified nursing professionals in Mississippi,” officials with AccelerateMS said.
The expansion at Ole Miss allows students to earn a four-year degree in nursing in Oxford. Ole Miss had been offering an accelerated BSN program on its Oxford campus that allowed students with baccalaureate degrees in other subjects to earn a BSN and prepare for licensure tests in a year’s time.
Nursing shortages continue to affect every state, especially in the southwestern U.S., as reported by the Nursing Journal in August 2023.
“A shortage of nurses means more burnout and more nurses choosing to leave the profession, contributing to the shortage,” the Nursing Journal stated. “In addition, the aging of Baby Boomers means that more nurses are retiring at a time when an aging population has a greater need for healthcare providers. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the nursing shortage.”
The Journal reports Mississippi ranks 32nd in the nation with 29,370 employed nurses in state equating to roughly 9.99 nurses per 1,000 residents. The national average is 9.22 nurses per 1,000.
Ole Miss said in a release that the first cohort of 50 traditional BSN students will begin in May 2024 and is expected to grow to 70 in its second year.
UMMC reports that 217 students are enrolled in the traditional BSN program, part of the 873 students studying in the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs.
In addition, UMMC recently broke ground on the construction of a new School of Nursing in Jackson. The UMMC School of Nursing will increase student participation by 25 percent utilizing the 106,000 square-foot state of the art school. The facility will be located off of Lakeland Drive and will provide classroom and laboratory space. The project is expected to be finalized by 2026.