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Ole Miss’ nursing program expanding to former hospital

The University of Mississippi’s School of Nursing is expanding in enrollment and will soon have the space to accommodate the growing numbers.

Beginning in the fall, the school will take up residence in the South Oxford Center, formerly known as the old Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi. When the hospital moved to its new location on Belk Boulevard in 2017, the university purchased the building.

The former intensive care unit at the old hospital will be converted to a high-fidelity simulation practice lab for nursing students. The number of students enrolled in the school and pursuing an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree will total 45, an increase to last year’s class of 30. With new space to utilize, the goal is to eventually admit 60 students into the program each year.

“With 12 bays, faculty will be able to run several scenarios simultaneously,” Mary Stewart said. “In the end, space matters. Having this dedicated area for the School of Nursing will enrich the educational experiences for students.”

Stewart is the school’s interim dean.

The decision to grow the program was due to a demand by both applicants and the workforce. Those who are admitted into the accelerated nursing degree program undergo a more intense schedule and need different resources and spaces than other traditional undergraduate programs require.

Currently, the nursing program at Oxford’s campus is housed on two floors of Kinard Hall. The new space at the South Oxford Center will include an administrative suite for faculty and other offices, a 60-student classroom with full technological abilities, student lounges and other common areas.

“We can’t grow (without more space),” Eva Tatum said of the expansion. “There’s all this talk of nursing shortages, and our accelerated students really are highly desired as nursing graduates by employers.”

Tatum is an assistant professor of nursing at the Oxford campus and has overseen much of the planning for the expansion to the South Oxford Center.

The accelerated nursing program was first offered in Jackson in 2006. The University Medical Center, located in Jackson, is the only institution in the state to offer and accelerated nursing degree for students who already have one degree. Oxford’s campus began offering the program in 2014. The program allows students who have a bachelor’s degree in another field and wish to change career paths the ability to quickly do so. It contains a continuous three-semester curriculum in which students participate in clinical training and classroom instruction.

“The A-BSN requires intensive study for 12 months,” Stewart said. “Students do not work outside school, so they spend much of their time in classes, labs, clinicals and other program-related activities. They need space for all these things.”