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5/5/2020 - Jackson, Miss.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought to light the crucial role the healthcare workforce plays in our state. Healthcare is also an important economic driver in both large and small communities across Mississippi and preparing the workforce is a key piece of economic development.

Mississippi Economic Development Week provides an opportunity to explore how Mississippi Universities continue to train the next generation of healthcare workers.

Alcorn State University’s new Doctorate of Nursing Practice program recently welcomed its inaugural class. The DNP program offers a full-time progression option to graduates of the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) master's degree program. The program requires 36 credit hours to be completed in five semesters of continuous enrollment.

It also provides advanced education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, healthcare systems, evaluation of practice models, and health policy. Graduates may also choose to use the degree to become a teacher, training even more Mississippians to become healthcare workers in the future.

Delta State University’s Robert E. Smith School of Nursing ranks second for the best online RN to BSN programs in Mississippi for the second straight year, according to RegisteredNursing.org. The program is designed for professional registered nurses striving for management roles in hospitals and healthcare settings and has a leadership focus. The courses are scheduled in a flexible format and students are allowed to take clinicals at settings that are near their home or work for added convenience. The RN-to-BSN includes a management practicum so students gain practical leadership experience

Assessment factors include nurse program completions, tuition, and ratio of faculty who are tenured. Earlier top rankings for DSU’s RN to BSN program include No. 1 in the country in 2015 by RNtoBSN.org and No. 1 in the state in 2017 by RNtoBSNOnlineProgram.com. Also, College Choice rated it No. 2 most affordable in 2016.

Jackson State University helps train another segment of the healthcare workforce: engineers. Students in JSU’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology study under top instructors in their fields. Dr. Danuta Leszczynska was recently selected to the worldwide National Academy of Inventors Fellows Program after earning a 2018 medical patent to eliminate inflammation and infection in patients whose artificial implants become brittle and start chipping,

Polish native Leszczynska is a longtime faculty member and a researcher and professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Industrial Systems and Technology. Late last year, she was among 168 new fellows from throughout the globe elected to the 2019 Class of Fellows. Four are Nobel laureates. As well, she’s now one of 1,228 NAI fellows who represent more than 250 prestigious universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes. According to NAI, these fellows hold more than 41,500 U.S.-issued patents that have created more than 36 million jobs and $1.6 trillion in revenue.

Mississippi University for Women recently received a grant from the Parkinson Voice Project to help expand the work of The W’s Speech and Hearing Center.

The Parkinson Voice Project recently awarded the grant to The W’s Dr. Laura Ball, who has spent more than 20 years working with individuals with progressive neurologic diseases (e.g. ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s). The grant will allow the Speech and Hearing Center to expand existing clinical services. The newly renovated Turner Hall houses the Speech and Hearing Center and provides the capacity for adult group therapy.

The creators of the Parkinson Voice Project developed an effective program combining education, individual speech therapy and ongoing group sessions to address speech impairments associated with Parkinson's disease. The program is based on motor learning principals and helps individuals with Parkinson’s improve their speaking abilities.

Dr. Ball’s grant award will be used to teach clinical educators and students (graduate and undergraduate) at The W about the Parkinson Voice Project program. The support materials for students and individuals with Parkinson's disease are provided by the grant. The training provided for students will help address a need in Mississippi and build future workforce capacity to serve individuals who have Parkinson’s using the SPEAK OUT!® program.

As the state’s only academic health sciences center, the University of Mississippi Medical Center works to improve the life of Mississippians by providing exceptional patient care, training the next generation of health care providers, and engaging in innovative research. UMMC enrolls more than 2,800 students in six schools, including the School of Dentistry, School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences, School of Health Related Professions, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, John D. Bower School of Population Health.

The University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Nursing and Health Professions houses degree programs such as nursing, health sciences, athletic training, recreation, public health, speech and hearing sciences and speech pathology and audiology. It also offers certificate programs for specialization as a family nurse practitioner, family psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner or psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.

The college’s Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs are ranked as the best in Mississippi by U.S. News & World Report based on factors such as research activity, student-faculty ratio, faculty credentials and number of faculty active in nursing practice.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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