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Published in CenterView on August 22, 2011

HRSA grant to fund B.S.N.-to-D.N.P. program in the School of Nursing

By Matt Westerfield

A $1 million grant awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration will pave the way for the School of Nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center to recruit and train nursing students to become community-based nurse leaders with advanced-practice degrees.


Led by principal investigator Dr. Sharon Lobert, associate dean for research, practice and evaluation, the funding will go toward the development of a B.S.N.-to-D.N.P. (Doctor of Nursing Practice) program, including an early-entry option for M.S.N. students as well as faculty and mentor training and enrichment.

In 2009, the School of Nursing launched the Doctor of Nursing Practice, a three-year post-master's program developed by a statewide planning group and offered at UMMC as well as the University of Southern Mississippi. That planning group includes the leaders of the other four B.S.N. and higher-degree programs in the state: Dr. Katherine Nugent, director of the School of Nursing at USM; Dr. Linda Godley, dean of the School of Nursing at Alcorn State University; Dr. Lizabeth Carlson, dean of the School of Nursing at Delta State University; and Dr. Sheila Adams, dean of the School of Nursing at the Mississippi University for Women.

From the beginning, Lobert said, the group wanted to find ways to support the new program and eventually implement a B.S.N.-to-D.N.P. program. She said the same statewide group will be involved in planning the curriculum and with recruitment for the new program.

"The goal is recruiting advanced-practice nurses, which we think is key with the advent of health-care reform and the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine report that focused on nursing," Lobert said. "We know that health care needs to be based in the community. The B.S.N.-to-D.N.P. will help to educate the nurse leaders for communities and get them where they need to be."

The grant also will bolster nursing faculty, not just at UMMC, but around the state.

"We will be holding statewide workshops, reaching out to potential preceptors and mentors for our students and also to faculty around the state who might be teaching in D.N.P. programs," she said. "We're going to focus on health literacy, cultural competency and patient safety."

Dr. Kim Hoover, dean of the School of Nursing at UMMC, was instrumental in helping to write the grant, Lobert said. And Dr. Barbara Boss, director of the D.N.P. program, also will be integral to helping develop the B.S.N.-to-D.N.P.

"Receiving this type of extramural funding gives us an edge as we move toward our strategic priority of defining and enhancing our distinctiveness and program opportunities," Hoover said.

The planning group will meet next month to begin work on the curriculum and planning for faculty development, said Lobert.

"What we think we're doing really well in Mississippi is this kind of partnering among the schools to optimize resources," she said. "When we go to national meetings and see what others have done, we see we're really in the forefront. We're very proud of that."