Mississippi College Nursing Enrollment Keeps Booming
New Mississippi College graduates like Maggie Wren of Madison and Emily Manuel of Clinton reflect booming enrollment trends at the School of Nursing.
Wren, 23, found the perfect fit as a nurse in the new year at the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson. Manuel, 25, first got interested in nursing after spending time in the hospital with her grandfather, who suffered a serious brain injury. She landed a job at Baptist Hospital.
The two Mississippians were among 92 School of Nursing graduates awarded bachelor’s degrees at Swor Auditorium on December 14. The big crowd of new Mississippi College nursing graduates receiving congrats from family members and friends is part of a trend.
MC nursing enrollment expanded dramatically over the past five years. There were 367 undergrads enrolled in 2014. But that number steadily grew to 374 students in 2015, and 407 in 2016. There were 489 nursing undergrads enrolled in 2017 and the number climbed to a record 524 in 2018.
MC School of Nursing Dean Kimberly Sharp sees more enrollment growth ahead as healthcare needs keep expanding for millions of Americans. That includes more patients who are aging Baby Boomers. The timing is right at Cockroft Hall headquarters as MC leaders pursue plans to create a new master of science in nursing degree.
“The development of a master’s program in nursing has long been a dream of the faculty and students of MC’s School of Nursing,” says Graduate Dean Debbie Norris. “Alumni in particular have strongly advocated for programs at the master’s level. It will provide access for students seeking a pathway to graduate study and onto a terminal degree.”
There are still several key steps along the way that MC School of Nursing leaders must follow. First, approval is needed from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. The new master’s degree would begin in Fall 2019 if the MC request is granted.
Like all new higher education programs in the USA, it will take a few years of hard work to gain national accreditation. It’s just a part of the process that involves extensive paperwork and long hours for administrators. For example, MC’s physician assistant program was launched in 2011 as the first in the Magnolia State. Now, the rigorous 30-month program for 90 graduate students is nationally accredited.
Given MC’s solid track record for its undergraduate School of Nursing program, school leaders feel confident national accreditation will occur for its master’s degree. MC’s undergraduate nursing program is already nationally accredited.
The first track Mississippi College is pursuing is the clinical nurse leader (CNL). “Thus far, no program like this exists in Mississippi,” Norris said. “This track would allow nurses to fulfill advanced nursing practice competencies while remaining in their place of employment.”
Dean Sharp is proud of the accomplishments of MC School of Nursing students on national standardized exams they need to pass to enter the profession. The pass rate posted on the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Education website stands at 94 percent. “I expect that we will be even higher this year when the 2018 results are posted in March.”
MC School of Nursing leaders let students know up front the classes at the Baptist-affiliated university will be tough. But that never discouraged new nursing grads like Sara Anderson. The Crystal Springs resident hit the books since day one on the Clinton campus. Anderson graduated with Cum Laude honors in December. “I always wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl. That was the only thing.” Sara began her nursing career at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Some new grads like Leslie McAdory, 41, took all of their MC nursing classes on-line. The Pearl resident earned her nursing diploma in December 2018 in the RN to BSN degree program. She works at MEA administrative offices in Ridgeland. McAdory believes her Mississippi College diploma will help her advance in the nursing profession.