School of Nursing Adding Traditional B.S.N. to Ole Miss Campus

Students can enroll in four-year Oxford program beginning in 2024

UM School of Nursing students Katherine Cradic (left) and Mary Carson Lynch perform record vital signs in a simulation lab at the South Oxford Center in 2019. The School of Nursing plans to expand its Oxford offerings to include a traditional four-year program next year. Photo by Joe Ellis/UMMC Photography

JACKSON, Miss. – The School of Nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center is expanding its Oxford offerings to include a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program next year.

The school has been awarded a $750,000 grant from AccelerateMS through the state’s Office of Workforce Development to reinstate the traditional B.S.N. pathway at the School of Nursing’s instructional site in Oxford.

This grant is in addition to $4 million appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature during the 2023 legislative session to the University of Mississippi for repair, renovation and expansion of the nursing school in Oxford. 

The Ole Miss campus already offers an accelerated B.S.N. program that allows students with baccalaureate degrees in other subjects to earn a nursing degree and prepare for licensure tests in a year’s time. With this expansion, students will be able to earn a four-year degree in nursing in Oxford.

Scott Rodgers

“In Mississippi and nationally, there is a need for more nurses,” said Dr. Scott Rodgers, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at UMMC. “Our mission is to educate the next generation of nurses, nursing leaders and nurse educators.

“The growth of UMMC’s nursing program in Oxford will increase the number of registered nurses caring for patients in Mississippi.”

Nursing at Ole Miss expanded to the South Oxford Center, the former Baptist Memorial Hospital building that was purchased by the university in 2017. What had been an intensive care unit has been converted into a high-fidelity simulation practice lab for nursing students, giving them experience in providing the highest level of nursing care.

“Our traditional B.S.N. students in Oxford will have classes and labs at the South Oxford Center, a location that will give them the best experiential learning opportunities to transition to practice,” said Tina Martin, interim dean of the nursing school.

“We’re grateful to the Mississippi Legislature, AccelerateMS, the Mississippi Office of Workforce Development and the University of Mississippi for enabling the School of Nursing to strengthen the Mississippi nursing workforce by graduating 28% more baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses.”

Joe Tacy, associate professor of nursing and associate dean for academic affairs in the school, will serve as principal investigator for this project, primarily responsible for the oversight of the grant. The co-investigators are Sharon McElwain, associate professor of nursing and the school’s assistant dean for undergraduate programs; Leigh Holley, associate professor of nursing and assistant dean for the Oxford Instructional Site; and Martin.

“We look forward to the start of this additional B.S.N. track, which will allow more students to pursue nursing degrees,” Tacy said.

Leigh Holley, associate professor of nursing and assistant dean for School of Nursing’s Oxford Instructional Site, works with students at the South Oxford Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The first cohort of 50 traditional B.S.N. students will begin May 2024 and is expected to grow to 70 in its second year. The current A.B.S.N. program includes a 70-student cohort.

At UMMC, 217 students are enrolled in the traditional B.S.N. program, part of the 873 students studying in the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs.

The grant-funded expansion of the Oxford nursing program adds to recent notable events. The School of Nursing, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, broke ground in June on a new state-of-the-art home on the UMMC campus. In 2022, the B.S.N. programs at the Medical Center and in Oxford received the highest ranking in the state from U.S. News & World Report.

About 660 B.S.N. programs are ranked each year, so that puts the baccalaureate nursing programs at UMMC and in Oxford just outside the top 10% in the country.

The B.S.N. programs at the Medical Center and the Oxford campus came in at 67th in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking.