New Mississippi accelerated BSN program boasts 100 percent pass rate

Published 9:20 pm Sunday, February 18, 2024

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) College of Nursing and Health Profession’s Accelerated BSN (ABSN) inaugural cohort achieved 100 percent pass rate on the first attempt of the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam.

Makayala Beach, Kelcey Couevas, Robin Holman, and Brianna Puff comprised the first cohort of the unique pathway, earning their nursing pins while leading the way for other students to obtain a BSN degree in 12 months. The program continues to grow with the second and third cohort already enrolling 34 students.

Dr. Lachel Story, dean of USM’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, applauded each student’s performance throughout the program’s intense curriculum.

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“Achieving the gold standard outcome for nursing graduates, a 100 percent pass rate on NCLEX on the first attempt, means the students are getting a quality education,” Dr. Story said. “While the program is compressed, the students are getting the critical elements they need to be safe, competent nurses. Graduates of this program will help us meet the workforce needs across Coastal Mississippi.”

The program launched in January of 2023 at the Gulf Park campus, providing a unique way for students to earn a BSN degree in one year from an accredited university that includes a hybrid in-person and online format. Students enrolled in this degree option are eligible to bypass some typical BSN requirements because they have already earned a degree.

Brianna Puff, a native of Hattiesburg, knew the program would be challenging as she balanced family obligations and career goals. With a toddler at home and expecting a baby girl soon, she was grateful for the experiences and friends she made along the way.

“Dean Story and all the professors were so accommodating and encouraging,” Puff. “It truly made all the difference in my success.”

Puff’s persistence paid off as she completed the program, earning her nursing pin. She was also confident in her classmates’ ability to succeed and praised the program’s faculty for their dedication in preparing the class for a career in the medical field after graduation.

“I felt like I needed a stable career where I still have a role in serving my community, and this nursing program did that for me,” Puff said. Her plans include working in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), labor and delivery.

Michelle Toepfer, instructor and coordinator of the ABSN program, was impressed by the students’ hard work.

“Brianna did not miss a beat,” Toepfer said. “She had her baby girl and was back in class the following week.”

Couevas, a native of Gautier, found the program extremely rewarding. During one of her long shifts at work, she was researching options in the medical field to enhance her career and stumbled upon information about the ABSN program. She found it was a good fit, as she wants to continue to provide rewarding service as a nurse.

And although parts of the program are online, Couevas said her professors were readily available and prepared them for the exam.

“All of our professors were great,” she continued. “They held everyone together, and I’ve also made some great friends throughout the program.”

Toepfer attributes the passing success to the program’s faculty and staff.

“The success of achieving a 100 percent pass rate for the first cohort can be attributed to rigorous curriculum design, dedicated faculty support, personalized student mentorship, and a culture of collaboration and determination among students, fostering a conducive learning environment and ensuring comprehensive preparation for NCLEX,” Toepfer said.

Learn more about USM’s nursing program and scholarship opportunities by calling 601.266.5445.