VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, December 28, 2018

Five Questions

Good morning!

I hope you all made the time to recharge and spend some quiet time with family during the holidays.  As a new year approaches, I wish all of you a safe, festive New Year’s Eve and a happy, healthy 2019.  I am optimistic that 2019 will be a very good year for UMMC!

Today I’ll answer some of your questions.  As a reminder, I read all of your questions and comments and value every one of them.  I don’t have the space to answer them all here, but I forward the rest to senior administrators for review and possible action. 

Now, on to your questions.

Q:  I am a December M.S.N. graduate from the School of Nursing.  Why do we not have a December graduation like many other universities?  It would be more exciting to have a graduation when I finish school, instead of waiting until May.

A:  Congratulations on completing your degree.  I directed your question to Dr. Ralph Didlake, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, and he cited both logistical and philosophical reasons for having only a single commencement in May.  Most of our programs are lock-step in nature, so the vast majority of students graduate in the spring.  From year to year, the number of December graduates can fluctuate widely, so some years a graduation at the end of the fall semester might be quite small.  We also want high participation among our faculty, and it is always a challenge to find a time when busy clinicians can be free from their clinical responsibilities.  The final reason is perhaps symbolic.  We are training a multidisciplinary health care workforce, and there is great meaning and no small amount of pageantry when the floor of the Mississippi Coliseum is covered with the next generation of that workforce and their achievements are recognized as a unified group.

Q:  I've recently spoken to new graduate nurses who have shadowed in my unit hoping to get an interview and a position. Two of these nurses had already been interviewed and had been offered jobs at neighboring hospitals while they were still waiting to hear from UMMC regarding their applications. Both of them were in a position where they were having to choose to accept the other job or wait to hear something from UMMC and decline the other job offer. Most new grads are eager to have a job nailed down and have a hard time turning down a perfectly good job to wait on the opportunity for another.  When I applied here six years ago, I applied to several different open positions and waited a month and a half without having a single interview set up until I emailed one of the unit managers myself.  I understand that Talent Acquisition has changed dramatically in the past few years, but what is the holdup in processing new graduate nurse applications and what are we doing to make sure we aren't letting other hospitals in the area hire all the eager new nurses before we get a chance to?

A:  I asked Terri Gillespie, Chief Nursing Executive, for her thoughts on your question.  Her reply:  It’s a complex question and not having more information makes it difficult to provide a precise answer.  Some of the possible reasons that applicants would not receive a call include applying to areas with limited vacancies, not submitting a strong application or being disqualified by the system for not meeting some technical requirement.  During the last year numerous changes have been made to improve this process.  Now there is a team dedicated to clinical recruitment.  Members of this team review every application within one business day and route to the appropriate nurse manager.  In instances where there are limited open positions, such as in the Emergency Department, Labor and Delivery, and the Adult ICUs, applicants are personally contacted by Clinical Recruitment to determine other possible areas of interest, including places that do not hire new graduates, such as the Operating Room.  Another change to accommodate new graduates is their ability to be hired after graduation and before taking the licensure exam.  Our goal is to recruit, hire and retain top talent for our organization while providing a good applicant experience.  It’s our hope that the implementation of the Workday enterprise business platform later in 2019 will further enhance our system.

Q:  Have there been any preparations made for this year's winter temperatures at the Jackson Medical Mall?  As you are aware, last year the JMM went well over a week without heat or working inside toilets, and it was miserable. Is there a game plan in the event this happens again?  The first time this year we had a cold day, the heat was not working for two days.

A:  According to Primus Wheeler, executive director of the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation, the recent heating problems you describe were caused by a malfunction in the HVAC system and have been repaired.  A completely new, energy-efficient system will be installed this summer and should prevent periodic outages due to the system’s age.  The potential for future water outages has been addressed by having on-site water to supply the system in the event of a water line break.  This makeshift solution should suffice until a permanent fix – a new water tower for the mall – can be built.  Additional improvements are planned for the next few months, including improvements to the electrical supply, the parking lot and the interior.

Q: What happened to the red and yellow lines in the hallway leading to and from the cafeteria to Children's Hospital?  Any plans to add directional signage for guests in that area?  I'm often stopped several times a day by people asking for directions to the cafeteria or Children's Hospital.  It was much easier to say “Turn left and follow the yellow/red lines.”

A:  I know there are some directional lines like you describe painted on the hospital ground floor.  We will be bringing in a consultant to evaluate our current wayfinding system and develop a comprehensive plan for internal and external wayfinding.  Although members of our facilities staff have done a good job keeping up with signage related to changes to roads and floor plans, the current system has a patchwork feel and needs a complete overhaul.  I am not certain if the new plan will include directional lines on the floor but we will look at a number of options including a wayfinding app that can be downloaded to the personal phones of patients, visitors and our own personnel.  Even with the best wayfinding systems, however, people will always rely on the kindness of our faculty, staff and students to help get them where they need to be, so thank you for your continued assistance to our guests.

Q:  During the recent incident on North State Street I noticed an area for improvement. I was in my vehicle trying to exit Veterans Memorial Stadium (my normal time of leaving, 4:30ish). I heard the gunshots and was trying to exit the stadium. When the active shooter alert was issued, the UMMC Shuttle System shut down. This makes complete sense, but literally the drivers just stopped the buses, completely blocking the only exit from the stadium in the two-lane area adjacent to McGee's and Back Yard Burger. In the future, could you please advise the buses to pull over to a safe location where they are not blocking the flow of traffic?  We had to illegally go into the oncoming lane of traffic just to exit the stadium.  In those situations you want people to get away from the incident so you can get first responders in.  A giant bus blocking the stadium exit is not a good idea.

A:  Thanks for your suggestion.  You are correct, our intention was for the campus buses to cease operation during an active shooter alert to avoid taking riders toward the gunfire.  However, we want the bus operators to safely drive the buses out of the flow of traffic so as not to block other vehicles, including first responders.  This is one of the improvements/clarifications to our emergency response plan we made following the incident.  If there are other suggestions, please forward them to Jason Smith at

Thank you again for all your questions, and thank you for another wonderful year, as we make our way toward A Healthier Mississippi.

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