IHL Board approves establishment of two new healthcare schools at MSU-Meridian

Health sciences students at MSU-Meridian (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Taking a significant step to address the shortage of healthcare personnel in Mississippi, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning approved Mississippi State University’s plan on Thursday [May 16] to establish two new schools in downtown Meridian, expanding healthcare education in the region.

Situated on the MSU-Meridian Riley Campus, which already houses the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree program, the College Board sanctioned the establishment of the School of Health Professions and the School of Nursing.

“I am thankful to the Board of Trustees for acknowledging the pivotal collaboration between MSU, the local medical community, and the civic and governmental authorities in Meridian and Lauderdale County, which will revolutionize healthcare opportunities and quality of life across the state,” stated MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “This represents the realization of a vision for the community that will continue to evolve and prosper.”

Heading the School of Nursing is Dean of Nursing Mary Stewart, who has been overseeing the university’s accelerated Master of Science in Nursing program since the past spring.

“The elevation to a School of Nursing brings Mississippi State University in line with our counterparts at other IHL institutions in the state,” explained Stewart. “A school provides the framework for faculty, student, and program expansion, leading to improved healthcare for Mississippi.”

The MSN program marks the state’s inaugural accelerated, direct-entry nursing program. It received approval from the IHL Board earlier this year to commence admitting students in August. The program allows graduates with non-nursing degrees to enter the nursing field as potential registered nurse candidates. The next stages of approval and national accreditation are slated for this fall. The process awaits approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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