State approval clears way for immediate opening of Belhaven nursing school

nurse_surgery_rgbJACKSON — Belhaven University says it plans an August start for enrolling students in its new School of Nursing after having received approval Thursday from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) for its bachelor of science in nursing degree program.

University President Roger Parrott said the effort to launch the nursing school has received support from the governor, the presidents of all state private and public institutions and leaders of nearly every major hospital. “I have never been involved in the launch of a new academic focus that has generated as much interest and support as our new School of Nursing has,” Dr. Parrott said.

The university said the start up will help to fill an urgent need for nurses in Mississippi. “There are 1,360 projected annual job openings for registered nurses in Mississippi; with just over one-fourth or 360 of the openings in the metropolitan area of Jackson,” said Dr. Dennis Watts, associate provost.

“Nursing graduates from Belhaven will help fill a significant healthcare gap in Mississippi and around the country,” he said.

Nationwide, employment of nurses is expected to grow 25 percent through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Nursing graduates from Belhaven will help fill a significant healthcare gap in Mississippi and around the country,” he said.

Dr. Barbara Johnson will serve as dean of nursing. “As changes in healthcare reform impact the demand for quality healthcare services, Belhaven’s nursing program is in a position to respond to the complexities and nuances of a diverse healthcare environment,” she said.

The accreditation, allowing Belhaven’s School of Nursing to admit and enroll students, was based on an evaluation of the program’s mission, goals, expected outcomes, curriculum, leadership, faculty and support services. With Belhaven  situated close to multiple major hospitals and surgical centers, “nursing is a natural fit and extension of the University mission,” Watts, the associate provost, said.

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine set a goal for each state to have at least 80 percent of the nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher by 2020.In  Mississippi, only 31.4 percent  of nurses are practicing at the baccalaureate level or higher, according to Watts.

President Parrot said the school will be housed in new “state-of-the-art” facilities on the third floor of the recently renovated Irby Complex. “We have gathered a remarkably gifted group of faculty, built new facilities and provided the foundational quality of a stellar science program to put behind our new nursing school,” Parrot said.

“I believe this is one of the most significant advances we have ever taken and I look forward to our first nursing students enrolling in August.”


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