March 23, 2017  

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Service Members Reap Rewards from Nursing Program at USM

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A federal grant awarded to The University of Southern Mississippi in 2014 has already paid significant dividends to former and active-duty military service members seeking a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

The three-year Health Resources and Services Administration grant, in excess of $1 million, allows the Southern Miss College of Nursing to offer a specialized program based at the University’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, Miss.

The new Veterans Bachelor of Science (VBSN) program, which may be completed in as little as five semesters after completion of pre-requisites, incorporates military training and education previously received in the medical field. Pre-requisites may be taken at any accredited college or university anywhere in the country and out-of-state tuition will be waived for students in the program.

The grant  allows veterans with military healthcare experience to possibly receive course credit and/or challenge clinical components up to 11 credit hours, based on review of military transcripts, etc. This is the only entry option into a pre-licensure registered nursing program (Bachelor’s degree program) that allows students to receive course credit and/or challenge clinical components based only on previous experience.

When reviewing military transcripts and other information, reviewers’ primary concern is patient safety and ensuring that the military training and experience is sufficiently comparable to the coursework and clinical components in both breadth and depth.

“We are very proud of our military and the quality of candidates that we are admitting to our program,” said Dr. Patsy Anderson, Associate Dean and Associate Professor, USM-GP College of Nursing and the VBSN Program Director. “Our military does an excellent job in training personnel, and as a faculty member I could not be more pleased.”

Titled, “USM-GC’s Military/Veterans BSN (VBSN) Pathway,” the program has a curriculum adapted for former and active-duty service members with training as Army or Air Force medics or Navy corpsmen. It is tailored to each student, and program requirements are based on military medical education and training. The traditional BSN program is available for those with no medical experience.

“It’s a great match with what we have to offer with this program, because these young people will bring a sense of service from their military background into the nursing profession, which is service-oriented as well,” said Retired Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond, director of veterans and military student services at Southern Miss. “If I were a medical corpsman coming out of the military and looking to advance my career opportunities, the BSN program at the University’s Gulf Park Campus would be at the top of my list.”

While maintaining the highest academic standards, clinical quality, and NCLEX pass rates, the program’s goal is to help students with a military background transition into meaningful and successful nursing careers.

Anderson points out that the U.S. is facing a crucial nursing shortage. Accordingly to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment projections (2012-2022), Registered Nurse is listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2022.

“The RN workforce is expected to grow from 2.71 million in 2012 to 3.24 million by 2022,” said Anderson. “The Bureau also projects the need for 525,000 replacement nurses in the workforce, bringing the total number of job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements to 1.05 million by 2022.”

There is a process in place for the VBSN program to be approved beyond the three-year period of the HRSA grant should the Southern Missllege of Nursing chooses to pursue it following an evaluation of the program’s  effectiveness:

  • USM College of Nursing develops a proposal and submits it for internal approval at the university-level
  • If approved by the USM President, the proposal is submitted to the Office of Academic and Student Affairs, Nursing Education at the Institutions of Higher Learning for approval

The program is supported in part by a grant from the Division of Nursing, Bureaus of Health Professions, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information about the veterans’ bachelor of science in nursing degree program, visit www.usm.edu/nursing/vbsn or email vbsn@usm.edu.