UMMC’s online MSN program rises to 33rd in the country in U.S. News & World Report list
Published on Monday, January 30, 2023
By: Annie Oeth, email@example.com
Photos By: Melanie Thortis
The online Master of Science in Nursing program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s School of Nursing has been ranked 33rd in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The ranking is the highest for any online MSN program in the state.
The ranking represents a rise of five percentage points since 2022, said Dr. Julie Sanford, dean of the School of Nursing.
“Seeing our ranking from U.S. News & World Report rise is such an honor,” Sanford said. “Our online MSN program is a resource to nurses and produces nursing leaders, nurse educators and nurse practitioners who will serve communities throughout the state. It is gratifying to see the hard work of our nursing faculty recognized.”
UMMC’s online MSN tracks include nursing health care administration, nurse educator, family nurse practitioner, acute care nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.
The RN-to-MSN program, which allows a registered nurse with an associate degree to earn a master’s degree, includes tracks for nursing health care administration, nurse educator, family nurse practitioner, acute care nurse practitioner and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.
Dr. Audwin Fletcher, professor of nursing and assistant dean for graduate programs in the School of Nursing at UMMC and director of its Adult-Gerontology Acute Care and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care nurse practitioner tracks, said UMMC’s online MSN tracks hone students’ leadership and research skills.
“Our online graduate programs offer and allow the opportunity for students to gain knowledge and skills in leadership across various settings,” Fletcher said. “Students are exposed to research principles designed to improve patient care across a variety of settings and populations. The students have opportunities to network with leaders in clinical, academic, political and social realms. All these facets allow the students to emerge as well-rounded masters’ prepared nurses.”
UMMC’s School of Nursing’s traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing and accelerated BSN programs at UMMC and in Oxford ranked 67th in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking, tying with undergraduate nursing programs including Florida State University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center-Lubbock and Auburn University. Since about 660 BSN programs are ranked each year so that puts UMMC’s BSN programs just outside the top 10 percent in the country.
The benefits that make online MSN programs at UMMC a great value are numerous, said Dr. M. Jeanne Calcote, assistant professor of nursing and director of the nursing health care administration MSN track.
“Our programs have schedule flexibility and part-time and full-time plans of study that allow students to earn an MSN degree while working full-time,” Calcote said. “They’re predominantly online with asynchronous coursework, so students don’t have to rearrange their lives to earn an MSN.”
Tuition costs that are lower than those in neighboring states and at private universities plus being headquartered at Mississippi’s only academic medical center also brings advantages, she said.
Completing an MSN degree at UMMC can be done in as few as five semesters with a full-time plan. Part-time students can complete an MSN in about seven semesters, depending on how many classes they take each semester.
Jayla Collins, a student in the program, sees this flexibility as a benefit. “This is great because some people may have to continue to work while achieving their FNP Master's Degree,” she said. “They also help you find preceptors for your clinical hours. I think this is very beneficial because sometimes finding a preceptor can be hard and some schools do not assist you in this process.”
Fletcher said MSN studies teach students “to think differently and to sharpen their critical thought processes as they face new challenges and opportunities. The students are exposed to professionals in various administrative positions, as well as nurse scientists and clinicians within and outside of healthcare. This allows for opportunities that otherwise might not have been known.”
Collins said the School of Nursing’s programs offer professional guidance throughout the MSN journey. “The faculty are always an email away to be of assistance if I have questions or need clarification,” she said. “They are also very nice and understanding.”
Fletcher, who has earned three degrees from the School of Nursing and is a 32-year employee of UMMC, said the Medical Center’s MSN program “provides students with opportunities that cannot be experienced at any other institution."
“UMMC is a trauma center and a research center that houses seven professional schools. UMMC has clinics and hospitals in areas that span across the state, and UMMC has national connections with other health care centers in the country,” he said. “Coupled with expert educators and clinicians with access to cutting-edge technology, UMMC gives its MSN students a well-rounded education.”
The School of Nursing’s MSN program is “exceptionally challenging,” Collins said, “but upon completion, I know that I will be well prepared as a health care provider, ready to provide care for those in need from many different walks of life, and I will be confident in my skill set.”