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Nurse Practitioner Programs in Mississippi

Mississippi's nurse practitioners have a greatly expanded role in managing health and common healthcare conditions. They can even act as primary care providers. They aren't quite doctors, though. Their level of autonomy is less.

Nurse practitioners are a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. They train as RNs before they train as APRNs. Education takes place at the graduate level. The minimum educational level is the master's degree. National certification agencies assess competency relative to standards that are specific to the population served. Family nurse practitioners are generalists who treat patients across the lifespan; they must refer some patients if they are not working as part of healthcare systems that include healthcare providers with specialized skills. Some nurse practitioners focus on narrower age bands or on women’s health. Some deliver psychiatric/ mental health services.

Top Nurse Practitioner Programs in Mississippi

#1: The University of Southern Mississippi offers family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner programs that are primarily online. Both the online master's and DNP program are nationally ranked by US News and World Report.

#2: The University of Mississippi Medical Center offers multiple tracks including the state's only combined acute/primary care pediatric nurse practitioner track and its only neonatal track. Programs use various delivery methods, including online/ hybrid. The University of Mississippi Medical Center boasts a 100% pass rate on the national certification examination for family nurse practitioners.

#3: Delta State University offers multiple ways to earn one's family nurse practitioner credential. BSNs who opt for a DNP complete 1,440 clinical hour (420 of which are earned in conjunction with the final scholarly project.

#4: Mississippi University for Women and Alcorn University each offer an accredited family nurse practitioner programs at the master’s level. Mississippi University for Women is CCNE-accredited. Alcorn University is ACEN-accredited.

Education Requirements

Would-be nurse practitioners must complete accredited programs. Programmatic accreditation is necessary even to ensure certification eligibility. Accrediting agencies evaluate many aspects of nursing education from curriculum to resources to certification examination pass rates. The most common accrediting agency for advanced practice programs is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (https://directory.ccnecommunity.org/reports/accprog.asp). Some programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programsearch.htm).

Programs are often online or hybrid. There are multiple flexible options, designed to accommodate working nurses. Coursework includes advanced physiology, health promotion, assessment and diagnostic reasoning, pharmacology, research, NP role preparation, and clinical management of health conditions. The post-basic nursing student must be prepared to put in at least 500 hours of clinical experience (1,000 for a doctoral degree). Programs may allow students to exit with either a master’s degree or a practice doctorate. Students who opt for the doctoral degree typically receive more coursework that allows them to approach health from a systemic level. They often work on a practice-oriented inquiry or substantive project over a period of several terms. One University of Southern Mississippi student, for example, explored the issue of developing the psychiatric/ mental health nursing workforce in rural Mississippi (https://aquila.usm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1044&context=dnp_capstone).

In Mississippi, prescriptive authority for controlled substances is granted only after 720 hours of supervised practice.

(Additional Details: Nurse Practitioner requirements in Mississippi)

Practice Issues

A 2013 study of four Mississippi Delta Region states found a large proportion of advanced practice nurses who were in primary care and a large proportion who were located in rural regions; this was more often the case with family nurse practitioners than advanced practice nurses with other specialties (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1745-7599.12023). The authors, a DNP and a PhD, concluded that these professionals could play a big role in ensuring access for the underserved -- and that lessening of regulation and extension of scope of practice could foster APRN redistribution.

Nurse practitioners could potentially play a big role in improving the health of Mississippians. A 2015 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation placed Mississippi higher than any other state with regard to the percentage of residents living in Health Professional Shortage Areas : well over 50% (http://files.kff.org/attachment/issue-brief-tapping-nurse-practitioners-to-meet-rising-demand-for-primary-care).

Mississippi nurse practitioners won a victory in the relatively recent past. The state changed its requirements for physician collaboration and allowed the collaborator to be up to 75 miles away. Stakeholders seek further change to make it easier to step into needed roles, wherever they occur in the state. Mississippi is, despite its serious shortage of primary care physicians, one of the few states that sets a limit on the distance between NP and collaborating physician. Indeed, nearly half of U.S. states do not require formal physician collaboration or supervision, at all, even for medication prescription.

Nurse practitioners have much to feel good about. There’s a lot to be said for having a provider – any qualified provider. Providers with nursing backgrounds, though, are often especially good at looking at health from a holistic standpoint.

Mississippi, like other states, is concerned with providing quality services to individuals who live in rural areas. The Mississippi State Rural Health Plan describes the status of rural health in Mississippi. Rural health clinics are designed to utilize nurse practitioners and physician assistants (PAs). This is the case around the nation. There are other types of rural facility that may utilize nurse practitioners in the staff mix, among them, critical access hospitals.

Loan repayment programs can help entice providers to areas where they are needed most.

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