Northwest nursing program prepares students for early entry into higher degree programs

by LaJuan Tallo, assistant director of Communications/Public Information

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SENATOBIA, MS (10/15/2018) In 2013, first-year nursing students from the Northwest Mississippi Community Division of Nursing began applying to the RN-MSN Early Entry program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) School of Nursing.

Since that time, nine students have graduated with their master's degree in nursing, and another five are currently working toward that goal. Additionally, one student has deferred to begin the program next summer.

"Northwest graduate nurses are in demand in our area health care facilities and stand out as professionals that give excellent patient care. We want them to seek a higher degree since the BSN is required in magnet hospitals and may be required for a management role in today's healthcare system. There are more career opportunities in nursing with a master's, such as nurse educator, nurse executive, or nurse practitioner in a variety of specialties. Most of our graduates seek higher degrees at the various colleges in the area," said Dr. Denise Bynum, division director of Nursing.

According to the UMMC website, Northwest and Hinds Community College's associate degree nursing (ADN) programs entered into an agreement with the UMMC School of Nursing whereby first-year ADN students can gain early acceptance into the master's nursing program. The Early Entry program enables students to complete their ADN program and progress directly into their master's coursework.

To be considered for early entry status, students who have completed first semester ADN coursework must have a minimum ACT score of 21, a minimum 3.0 GPA overall and in all nursing courses and must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) prior to admission to the program.

"Students entering through Northwest Early Entry have proven to be academically gifted. Early Entry provides these highly committed students an opportunity to seamlessly enter into the Master's program," said Dr. Tina Ferrell, director of the Early Entry program at UMMC.

Kayla Moore of Calhoun City is a Northwest Early Entry success story. Now a Nurse Practitioner, Moore graduated from Northwest with her ADN in 2015. "The program was pretty streamlined from getting my ADN and going into the master's program. They bridge you across that first two semesters in kind of what you would cover for your BSN. It was not a drastic change for me," Moore said.

Moore finished her MSN in May 2017 and gained her Nurse Practitioner certification adult-gerontology primary care in August from UMMC. She is currently employed in Tupelo at the North Mississippi Medical Center, working at the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation center.

Moore feels like the nursing program at Northwest fully prepared her to go straight into the MSN program at UMMC. "I sometimes felt like the nursing program was hard, but it really prepared me to go into the master's program. The instructors at Northwest kept us to the same expectations that UMMC did. They really prepared me and I cannot stress that enough. They were awesome at that," Moore said.

For more information on the Northwest Nursing program, visit the college's website at