ELLISVILLE – The Covid-19 pandemic pushed a strained medical community into crisis two years ago and it also forced area nursing programs to search for ways to help more nurses obtain degrees. The University of Southern Mississippi recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Alcorn University, anticipating Jones College and Pearl River Community College could also assist with the plan to maximize resources to best help nursing students exceed their goals.
“Nursing education is the most important thing we do in the community,” said Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith. “We have a long history of working together with our community and there’s nothing more important than providing excellent health care. A great number of talented students can benefit from this exceptional partnership.”
The new partnership affords solutions for nursing students faced with obstacles in obtaining their degree, with the end goal of finding solutions to end the critical needs in health care and access to services. Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions at USM, Dr. Lachel Story said the partnership offers two pathways for USM undergraduate nursing students seeking their first nursing degree options to finish their degree when obstacles would normally put their degree on hold.
“We turn away many highly qualified applicants every semester, like many nursing programs, because we have more qualified applicants than we have the capacity or resources to enroll them,” said Story. “This pathway will provide those students an opportunity to complete their initial nursing degree with one of the three college partners and return to USM for a B.S.N. for a seamless process.”
Typically, nursing applicants who were not accepted into USM’s program could have applied to other schools. Unfortunately, most students were forced to wait at least a semester to begin the application process again. The new partnership will allow USM nursing administration another enrollment option for students. Instead of denying nursing applicants, students will be offered the option to enroll into another partner nursing program.
“We are looking beyond ourselves and what’s best for the nursing profession and our state,” Story said.
The second pathway allows students who have difficulty in nursing courses to complete their degree with an associate or practical nursing degree at Jones College or Pearl River Community College and then return to USM for their B.S.N.
“There are some students who are academically talented, who can have difficulty for a variety of reasons, which can put them in a potion which is challenging for them to overcome. These students will be identified before they fail a course or the program, and they will be offered an opportunity to finish their initial nursing degree with these colleges and then return to USM for a B.S.N. with the same seamless process,” said Story.
When nursing students quit before completion, it takes longer for them to enter the workforce and it limits financial aid options. By increasing the students’ opportunity to succeed with additional support and these new options to complete their degree will allow them to begin working in the medical field a lot sooner.
“Some students have taken courses in other programs like Psychology, Sociology and Healthcare Administration while they wait to be accepted into the nursing program. They usually end up getting degrees in those fields, but they really want to be a nurse,” said Jones College’s Assistant Dean for the College of Health Sciences, Teresa McDonald. “This partnership is all about the qualified students’ desire to become a nurse and helping them reach their goal.”
Additionally, Smith recognized the impact this new partnership can have on ending the nursing shortage by helping students reach their desired educational and career goals.
“We’ve all been touched by nurses that have been educated in these outstanding programs at USM, our community colleges, JC and PRCC, and at Alcorn University,” said Smith. “We know we’re going to have a solid impact on our state with this partnership by ensuring more competent, caring nurses can earn their degrees with the support to exceed their goals and ease the nursing shortage.”
For more information about the partnership https://www.usm.edu/news/2022/release/nursing-pathways-partnership.php For more information about Jones College’s nursing programs click on these two websites https://www.jcjc.edu/programs/adn/ or https://www.jcjc.edu/programs/practicalnursing/