HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is initiating a new, accelerated program to help combat the national nursing shortage.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country will need more than 203,000 new registered nurses every year through 2026 to fill the gap in care left by a retiring workforce. The average age of a nurse right now is 51.

“The shortage is at all levels, including registered nurses, advanced practice nurses and nursing faculty,” said Dr. Lachel Story, Dean of USM’s College of Nursing and Health Professions.

A new survey by Incredible Health found that more than 34% of nurses said it’s very likely they will leave the profession by the end of 2022 and 44% cited burnout and a high-stress environment as the reason for their desire to leave. Nurses cited benefits and pay as the second-leading reason (27%) for quitting their jobs.

USM’s approach to combating the nursing shortage is with an accelerated pathway to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree that will be offered on the school’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.

School leaders said the pathway will help eligible students earn a BSN degree in a shorter time and decrease barriers to admission, while providing benefits to those who have already earned a higher education degree. The initial cohort is expected to start coursework in January 2023. Plans call for two admission cycles per year.

Components of the accelerated plan include:

  • Can be finished in 12 months
  • Scholarships are available
  • Same degree as a traditional BSN – has some clinical experience
  • Abe to bypass some typical requirements, having already earned a degree
  • CCNE accredited

“This will get nurses out into the workforce in the most efficient and cost-effective manner while still ensuring the same high-quality educational and clinical experiences that we are known for,” said Story.

More information about the program can be found on the school’s website.