HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi’s masters and doctoral nursing programs are ranked best in the state by the U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Graduate School Rankings.
A few weeks ago, we brought you a story about a nurse practitioner student concerned about the quality of education she received. She was enrolled in a master’s degree program at a New York-based school.
Here in the Pine Belt, USM’s program is recognized among the best in the country.
The two-year program offers two tracks, family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. It’s a rigorous effort to be accepted as students must have at least one year of nursing experience to be considered.
One student considers the intensity of the program to be a good thing.
“It’s just my belief that if you’re going to do a graduate education, it should be challenging,” said Robert Ware, who recently completed the program. “It’s not something that is spoon-fed to you. It is something that you have to have self-initiative in and the program and the curriculum offer and support itself initiative, while at the same time if I ran into any roadblocks they were there to support and help me.”
Although COVID-19 has changed the way the school operates, officials say it’s not changing the quality of education the students receive.
“We’re continuing to make sure we’re checking our students off, making sure that they are competent when we’re sending them out into the clinical areas,” said Dr. Carolyn Coleman, USM nurse practitioner program coordinator. “It has brought a challenge to us, but we’re still- we’re continuing, we’re not letting our standards down at all.”
Students complete their 2,000 required hours of clinicals in Mississippi or just around the state line.
“That is put in place because it ensures the faculty are really able to supervise them. So even though our programs are online, they still are doing clinicals in the state,” said Dr. Lachel Story, Dean, USM College of Nursing and Health Professions. “So that means that those graduates tend to stay in the state. They really end up providing or addressing the health care provider shortage in the state of Mississippi.”
Roughly 70-80 students graduate from the program each year.