June 19, 2014 (Jackson) - Belhaven University's School of Nursing received approval from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) for its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) on Thursday, June 19, 2014.

“From Governor Phil Bryant to the presidents of all state private and public institutions and most importantly, leaders of nearly every major hospital, we have received unanimous and unprecedented support to begin our new nursing program. I have never been involved in the launch of a new academic focus that has generated as much interest and support as our new School of Nursing has,” said Dr. Roger Parrott, President of Belhaven University.

The need for nursing and nursing degree programs in Mississippi are an urgent reality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of nurses is expected to grow 25% through 2020. Dr. Barbara Johnson, Dean of Nursing, states, “Belhaven's School of Nursing provides a win-win situation for nursing and the state of Mississippi. As changes in healthcare reform impact the demand for quality healthcare services, Belhaven's nursing program is in a position to respond to the complexities and nuances of a diverse healthcare environment.”

hospital bed set up in School of Nursing

This accreditation, allowing Belhaven's School of Nursing to admit and enroll students, was based on an evaluation of the program's mission, goals, expected outcomes, curriculum, leadership, faculty and support services. Dr. Dennis Watts, Associate Provost at Belhaven University, points out that because Belhaven is strategically located in close proximity to multiple major hospitals and surgical centers, “nursing is a natural fit and extension of the University mission.”


According to Dr. Watts, the mission of Belhaven's School of Nursing supports opportunities for the University to expand and deepen its commitment to the service of those in need. “Our goal is to produce nursing graduates who are competent in the knowledge and professional skills required in the ever-changing healthcare arena in order to ensure provision of compassionate, holistic nursing care.” There are 1,360 projected annual job openings for registered nurses in Mississippi; with just over one-fourth or 360 of the openings in the metropolitan area of Jackson, Miss. Nursing graduates from Belhaven will help fill a significant healthcare gap in Mississippi and around the country.

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine set a goal for each state to have at least 80% of the nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher by 2020. Currently, in the state of Mississippi, only 31.4% of nurses are practicing at the baccalaureate level or higher. Belhaven's BSN will not only help increase the quality of healthcare in Mississippi, but help hospitals like St. Dominic Hospital, Baptist Health Care, University of Mississippi Medical Center and others reach Magnet status, a designation that recognizes healthcare organizations for quality patient care and nursing excellence. Only 6% of hospitals in the United States have obtained this distinction.

Belhaven nursing students will have access to quality health care training at a university level and be part of a program that has a deep commitment to faith. According to Dr. Parrott, nursing students will have access to new state-of-the-art facilities on the third floor of the recently renovated Irby Complex. “We have gathered a remarkably gifted group of faculty, built new facilities and provided the foundational quality of a stellar science program to put behind our new nursing school. I believe this is one of the most significant advances we have ever taken and I look forward to our first nursing students enrolling in August,” said Dr. Parrott.