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USM to offer new doctor of nursing practice degree

HATTIESBURG — The School of Nursing at the University of Southern Mississippi will soon take a giant leap in healthcare education and training by offering the state’s first degree-granting nurse anesthesia program.

The new program will include 36 consecutive months of study and award a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. School of Nursing officials hope to receive final approval from the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs in October with classes set to begin in January 2013.

“The benefit of this type of program to residents of Mississippi is access to an in-state nurse anesthesia program which will eliminate out-of-state tuition expenses,” said Dr. Vickie Stuart, nurse anesthesia program director and assistant clinical professor at Southern Miss. “The nurse anesthesia program will benefit Southern Miss by strengthening the partnerships between the university and the health community.”

According to Stuart, the new program’s mission is to supply doctoral prepared graduates with the advanced knowledge in the area of clinical specialization of nurse anesthesia. The DNP prepares the certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) to assume leadership positions in education, management and patient care by offering a curriculum concentrating on quality assessment and improvement, health care systems and organizations, leadership, best evidence of practice, health policy and health care economics.

Hattiesburg’s Forrest General Hospital will serve as the primary clinical site for the students in the nurse anesthesia program. Stuart points out that Southern Miss will accept up to 20 students per year in the program.

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