Nursing department forms partnerships

Nursing department forms partnerships

The University of North Alabama formed partnerships with the Alabama Community College System and North Mississippi Health Services to aid nursing students.

Officials with UNA and the ACCS signed a system wide learning agreement for nursing and more specifically the online RN-BSN and RN-MSN programs in the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions at UNA.

Under the agreement, any associates-prepared nursing graduate from an ACCS member institution will be eligible for a 20% scholarship on tuition and fees at UNA.

The percentage will be determined by the student’s course load and fees.

In-state tuition for a one to 11-hour course load is $277 per hour. Twelve to 18 hours have a $4,155 flat-rate cost. Nineteen or more hours has a $277 per hour cost in addition to the 12- to 18-hour flat rate, according to

Out-of-state tuition for a one- to 11-hour course load is $544 per hour. A 12- to 18-hour course load costs an $8,310 flat-rate. A 19 or more hour course load is $544 per hour in addition to the flat rate.

The partnership is believed to be the first of its type between the ACCS and an Alabama public university, according to Bryan Rachal, UNA’s director of university communications.

Dr. Ross Alexander, vice president for academic affairs and provost at UNA, said the agreement helps address the acute shortage of credentialed nurses in Alabama.

“We are proud to partner with ACCS on this comprehensive, system wide learning agreement,” Alexander said. “This agreement will provide a path to baccalaureate and graduate degree attainment for literally thousands of registered nurses in the state of Alabama.”

The agreement is now UNA’s largest learning agreement to date and will apply to more than 25 ACCS institutions, including Northwest-Shoals Community College, according to

There are over 180 ACCS member institutions across the U.S.

The partnership with UNA and NMHS will benefit NMHS employees.

North Mississippi Medical Center, a 640-bed regional referral center in Tupelo, Mississippi, is the flagship hospital for NMHS, according to its website.

The medical center serves more than 730,000 people in 24 counties in north Mississippi, northwest Alabama and portions of Tennessee. NMHS also includes community hospitals in Amory, Eupora, Iuka, Pontotoc and West Point, Mississippi and Hamilton, Alabama, nursing homes in Baldwyn, Eupora and Hamilton, home health and hospice services and more than 40 medical clinics throughout the region.

According to the agreement, UNA will provide scholarships to NMHS employees accepted into the following online programs: RN to BSN/RN to MSN nursing track, Bachelor of Applied Health Science, B.S./B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, M.Pr.S in Professional Studies and a BBA or MBA. A scholarship in the form of 20% off tuition and fees for online courses will be extended to all NMHS regular, full-time employees with an associate degree who enroll in UNA’s designated online programs.

The nursing distance learning fee varies in courses.

“We are proud to continue to partner with institutions across our region and especially proud of our new partnership with the University of North Alabama,” said Sondra Davis, NMHS chief human resources officer. “We are committed to maintaining a high-quality workforce. Providing educational opportunities for our employees helps us realize our vision of being the provider of the best patient- and family-centered care in America.”

Alexander said the agreement shows UNA’s commitment to education and health care in the tristate area.

“The partnership between North Mississippi Health Services and the University of North Alabama will expand the opportunities for career advancement and development for over 7,000 employees by offering an array of degree options,” Alexander said. “UNA is devoted to partnering with the community in order to make education more accessible and affordable. We look forward to welcoming employees of North Mississippi Health Services into our classes and academic programs.”

Dr. Vicki Pierce, dean of the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions at UNA, said they are excited to continue the already existent relationship.

“We are excited about growing the opportunities and relationship that UNA has established over many years with North Mississippi Health Services,” Pierce said. “UNA’s online nursing programs create opportunities that allow flexibility for nurses who are full time or part time and want to continue their education. The new online Bachelor of Science Applied Health Science degree will offer similar opportunities to NMHS employees. We are devoted to the success of our students and at UNA, you are family.”

Eligible employees must have completed one year of employment with NMHS to be considered for the scholarship. Successful completion of the National Council Licensure Examination is required for nursing students.

The NCLEX exam is a standardized exam that each state board of nursing uses to determine whether or not a candidate is prepared for entry-level nursing practice.