In ceremonies this week in Jackson, the nursing program at Mississippi University for Women received two significant honors.
The annual Nightingale Awards honor outstanding nurses and health care professionals, as well as organizations that have made a special effort to excel in healthcare. It is sponsored by the Mississippi Nurses’ Association and the Mississippi Nurses’ Foundation.
The W’s College of Nursing was recognized as the School of Nursing of the Year. This is the second time that The W’s program has received this recognition since the Nightingale Awards were started in 2006. The program last fall celebrated its 40th year and, in December, graduated the first class of a recently launched Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree. It is the only nursing program in the state that provides degrees from the associate of science in nursing through the DNP.
Mary Jo Kirkpatrick, chair of The W’s ASN program, was named Nursing Administrator of the Year. A faculty member at The W for 38 years, she has served as head of the program since 1991, leading it through three successful accreditation processes and three major curriculum revisions. The W’s ASN program was the first associate degree program in Mississippi to achieve national accreditation status. National licensure rates since its inception are 98.5 percent.
Kirkpatrick has served as president of the Mississippi Organization for Associate Degree Nursing and was the first chair of the Mississippi Council of Associate Degree Nursing Programs. She currently is a member of the Methodist/LeBonheur Healthcare Board of Directors and chairs the board’s Quality and Safety Committee.
Dr. Sheila Adams, dean of the college, said that she’s particularly proud of the recognition from a distinguished group of peers. “We have worked hard to build our program around the needs of our region and our state, and we know that our graduates excel in all fields of nursing. Our faculty are committed to our students’ success.”
Since its founding in 1971, the college has produced about 5,400 graduates who have successfully moved into the workforce, she added. An online R.N. to B.S.N. program, launched in 1982, provides a pathway for working registered nurses to earn a bachelor’s degree. More than 440 students are enrolled in the program, up from approximately 200 in 2009.
“The nursing program at The W has demonstrated its ability to innovate in delivering the highest quality educational standards for nursing professionals,” said President Jim Borsig. “Graduates of our nursing program have the highest pass rate in the state on the national licensure exam. We’re very proud of these honors that recognize the contributions of the faculty and staff of the college.”