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School of Nursing Honored as 2023 Nursing School of the Year, Graduate Degree Program

The Southern University School of Nursing was recently honored as the “2023 Nursing School of the Year, Graduate Degree Programs,” by the Louisiana State Nursing Association and the Louisiana Nurses Foundation, on Saturday, September 16, 2023, at the annual Nightingale Awards Gala, the “Academy Awards” of Nursing and Healthcare. The gala was held at the Crown Plaza hotel in Baton Rouge.

This award recognizes a school of nursing offering formal education for registered nurses seeking a graduate degree for advanced clinical practice roles as well as nursing administration, nursing education and research.

Established in 1986, Southern’s School of Nursing (SON) currently offers four degrees: the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN); the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialty in family health; the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP); and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with a major in nursing. As the dean of the School of Nursing since 2019, Sandra Chassion Brown, DNS, APRN, FNP-BC, CNE, ANEF, FAANP, FAAN, has led the school in creating a pathway to excellence in the nursing and health care workforce.  While the BSN program has produced over 2,600 RNs (85 percent African American) since its inception, the MSN program, which began in 1992, has produced more than 500 graduates; many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, with average certification pass rates exceeding the national average.

“This award validates the dedication of our faculty and staff, the resilience of our students, and the commitment of our institution all working together to produce outstanding students from excellent degree programs”, says Dean Sandra Brown.

The SON is nationally recognized for being one of the largest producers of African American family nurse practitioners (FNPs) in the nation, according to the Diversity in Higher Education Annual Report. Additionally, the SON has earned the recognition as being the largest producer of African American FNPs in the state of Louisiana, thereby fulfilling a significant role in building a diverse nursing workforce that is representative of the population of care. Of the accredited MSN (FNP) programs nationwide, the SON was selected as one of the two best value programs in the state of Louisiana for 2019-2020. Programs were selected based on their affordability, quality, and value. For the ranking of Best HBCU Nursing Schools for 2022, Top RN to BSN ranked the SON in the top 15. Programs are ranked according to tuition, cost, graduate salary, and reputation.

The graduate nursing program expanded in 2012 to fulfill its promise to build a stronger and more diverse advanced practiced registered nurse (APRN) workforce in Louisiana and has produced over 45 DNP graduates since its inception.  Currently pursuing its goal to advance evidence-based practice through rigorous scholarship and leadership to improve the health care of vulnerable populations, this practice focused doctoral nursing program is designed for nurses seeking careers in advanced clinical nursing practice at the nurse executive leadership rank.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program, a research-oriented doctorate, focuses on global issues and public policy associated with the health of vulnerable women and children. The program prepares nurse scientists whose research trajectories will expand the substantive knowledge base that informs nursing education, practice, and research. Since its existence in 2001, the PhD program has produced 46 PhD graduates.  

The SON is bringing health care to the community through its academic-practice partnership with Ochsner Health System, Louisiana’s largest health care delivery system. Through this partnership, health promotion and disease prevention services are provided via the SON’s Jag Mobile, named after the university’s mascot, to medically underserved, vulnerable populations in inner city and rural communities within a 50-mile radius of the SON. While serving as an innovation community-based clinical learning experience for graduate and undergraduate nursing students, health teaching and screening for early detection of conditions such as hypertension and diabetes are offered.

Graduate faculty consists of nationally recognized educators, researchers and expert clinicians who are transforming health care and influencing policy. Graduate faculty include National League for Nursing, Certified Academic Nurse Educators, fellows of the American Academy of Nursing (FAANs), the American Academy of Nurse Educators (ANEF), the National Gerontological Nursing Association (FNGNA), the Gerontological Society of America (FGSA), and a Distinguished Gerontological Nurse Educator through the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence. These faculty all serve as leaders and mentors in the graduate and undergraduate programs. In addition to faculty members maintaining specialty certifications, they hold leadership positions in local, state, and national professional nursing organizations as well as board positions in nursing and healthcare organizations.  This is the sixth time that Southern’s Nursing program has been chosen as Nursing School/Program of the Year. Southern was also selected as Nursing School/Program of the Year in 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2017, 2021. Anissa Leachman Taylor, DNP, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, CNE is the interim chairperson of the Graduate Nursing Programs.