Mississippi university to launch fast-track master-level nursing program

Published 11:01 pm Thursday, February 15, 2024

Mississippi State University received approval during today’s [Feb. 15] meeting of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning to admit the first students into a newly created Master of Science in Nursing degree program at MSU-Meridian.

The 12-month, fast-track program is Mississippi’s first direct-entry MSN which allows college graduates holding non-nursing degrees to enter the nursing profession and become candidates for registered nurse licensure. The program launches at a crucial time as the health care industry in Mississippi follows a national trend of increasing critical worker shortages.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum said the MSN program demonstrates a “tremendous commitment” in addressing underserved populations by bolstering educational and health care needs in the state and region. Keenum lauded the philanthropic generosity and support from major hospitals and health systems in Meridian, which have worked to bring the program to fruition.

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“As a land-grant university, this commitment aligns with MSU’s mission of learning, research and service,” Keenum said. “This master’s level program is a return to the hands-on training and service critically needed in Mississippi’s health care landscape, and it improves quality of life in communities by inspiring and encouraging students to fulfill their calling.”

Dean of Nursing at MSU-Meridian Mary Stewart said the accelerated, hands-on graduate nursing program will begin with 36 students in August and is expected to grow to graduate up to 60 students annually. Roughly 92 similar programs have been developed nationwide, she said.

“This is an intense patient-centered curriculum, and students can expect this to be their full-time job,” Stewart said. “It’s a rigorous program, but students will emerge as practice-ready and prepared candidates for national licensure as registered nurses.”

She said the program is well-suited to degreed individuals who seek new career paths. While the program prepares students as generalists, they will demonstrate graduate competencies like leadership and professionalism.

Faculty members represent clinical specialties in adult primary and critical care; maternal-child; psychiatric and mental health; and community.

“The faculty is firmly committed to strengthening the nursing workforce and improving life for all through excellence in graduate nursing education,” Stewart said.

The MSN program is housed at the MSU-Meridian Riley Campus in downtown within the historic Rosenbaum Health Sciences Building, formerly known as the Kress Building. A $6.1 million gift from The Riley Foundation made possible the recent building renovation designed for the MSN program along with the adjacent Master of Physician Assistant Studies program.

MSU-Meridian Head of Campus and Associate Vice President Terry Dale Cruse said the MSN program advances the university’s mission to serve.

“This is a program in which a tremendous amount of thought, preparation and work will cast a perpetual ripple effect in hospitals and health care clinics across the state and beyond, positively affecting a measureless number of lives and families. Every generous and selfless soul who had a role in contributing to this enormous undertaking should stand proudly, knowing their actions will undoubtedly serve others in need,” Cruse said.

Thursday’s vote approves Stage II of the application in the initial accreditation process, Stewart said. Approval of Phase III and national accreditation are scheduled for this fall. The process is still pending Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges approval.

For more information on MSU-Meridian’s accelerated Master of Science in Nursing degree program, call 601-696-2277. Visit MSU-Meridian online at www.meridian.msstate.edu.