The University of Southern Mississippi has announced that its Gulf Coast campus will begin to offer an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program for those students who have spent time serving in the United States military.
Patsy Anderson is the director of the Veteran’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.
“Currently the military, since it is pulling out of Afghanistan, is discharging a significant amount of service members,” she said. “And we have a nursing shortage, off and on. We need to put our soldiers to work and we need to improve the health care of our nation.”
The Division of Nursing, Bureaus of Health Professions, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services granted Southern Miss a three-year grant of $1.1 million to start its program.
“This grant serves to bridge the gap for veterans who have encountered complications in gaining academic credit for their military health care training while placing them in a superior BSN career path at one of the finest and most progressive nursing schools across the United States,” said Retired Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond, director of veterans and military student services at Southern Miss.
The degree program will begin in Spring 2015. During that semester, student-veterans will be able to finish their basic prerequisite courses. They will also be able to take 11 hours in assessment classes that will determine if they are capable of skipping some of the classes other nursing students are required to take.
If the students prove to have knowledge of the subjects tested in the assessment classes, they will qualify for the fast-track program allowing them to only spend four semesters in nursing school, rather than the five that are typically required. After the four semesters, they will be able to sit for the state licensing exam.
“Our student-veterans possess many of the most critical skills needed in caring for others: leadership, discipline, maturity, a global perspective, diversity of thought and higher graduation rates,” Hammond said.
The grant will allow Southern Miss to offer student-veterans mentoring, counseling and other additional student support services. The university will also have the ability to assist student-veterans with any mental health and stress issues that could be plaguing them.
Financial assistance will also be given to these students.
“Student-veterans will be able to capitalize on the Post 9-11 GI Bill Education Benefits while attending class on the (USM Gulf Park campus) which is designed to cover their higher education expense,” Hammond said. “Also, application and out-of-state tuition fees will be waived for our student-veterans.
Gulf Park campus is located near both an Air Force and a Navy base, providing affordable living arrangements. Also, the Gulf Coast is home to a veteran’s assistance hospital and many veteran’s service organizations.
During the course of the next three years, Southern Miss hopes to find that these student-veterans qualify to skip more than the 11 hours that are offered to them now.
“Our College of Nursing will deliver the highest quality education to men and women with great experience and allow them to pursue a four-year degree efficiently and effectively at our Gulf Park campus,” President Rodney Bennett said in a USM press release.
For more information on the program, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast/college-nursing/veterans-bachelor-science-nursing-degree.