The desire to provide greater care and lasting relationships brings two nursing alumni back to Mississippi University for Women.

Dr. Lindsay Kemp (right) demonstrates suturing for graduate student Lauryn Hicks

Each week, 21 nurses from Mississippi and neighboring states assemble on the campus of Mississippi University for Women as part of the university’s Master of Science in Nursing program. The program is available to nurses with a baccalaureate degree and two years of registered nursing experience. Upon completion, graduates are prepared to be a direct provider of care and eligible to sit for national board certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).

As part of the Advanced Procedures course, students receive personal, hands-on instruction from seven graduate faculty members on such skills as suturing, basic radiology and chest x-ray overview, EKG interpretation, physical therapy ordering, palliative care practice considerations, dermatological procedures in primary care and diabetes/obesity management.

The on-campus course allows students to network and build collaborative relationships with faculty and statewide experts such as nurse practitioners, physical therapists, specialty nurses, physicians and surgeons. The on-campus relationships help to prepare the future nurse practitioners to become safe, competent and cost-effective healthcare providers.

Dr. Alena Groves

“The in-person classes offer a connection for the students that they do not receive in online programs. It allows them to get to know the faculty and allows the faculty to better support, guide and mentor the students with weekly face-to-face advisor meetings. The W provides a ‘connective’ educational experience that is difficult to achieve with online programs,” said Dr. Alena Groves, coordinator for the Master of Science in Nursing program at The W.

For labor and delivery nurse Lauryn Hicks becoming a nurse practitioner is the next step in furthering relationships with her patients.

“Making the bond with the patient is the biggest reward at the end of the day, especially after a tough day. Nurse practitioners diagnose, manage and follow patients. It’s a continuous relationship,” said Hicks.

From her time at Forrest General Hospital, Hicks developed a passion for women’s health. She sees a need for more women’s health nurses and a better quality to care, especially in rural settings.

Austin Black discovered his passion as a Veterans Affairs nurse in Tupelo.

Austin Black

“At the VA, I guide the care more than I was exposed to in a hospital setting. I really enjoyed being involved in the patient’s care. I wanted to continue learning the why behind physicians’ decisions and how to help the patient.”

As alumni of the university, furthering their career at The W was an easy decision. The opportunity to have face-to-face classes from expert faculty was at the top of their list of priorities when choosing a program.

Groves said many nurses return to pursue their master’s degrees to improve access to care among their communities and their state in order to improve health outcomes in areas that historically have poor health and nutrition and have a lower socioeconomic status when compared to other states.

“Nurses in advanced practice, such as nurse practitioners, are in a position of influence among their communities with regards to the policies that affect nursing practice and the overall health outcomes of their patients. They have reach, rigor and drive. They affect their local commerce by reducing detrimental health effects, reducing health care costs and even providing employment,” explained Groves.

The W is the only program offering an on-campus advanced procedures skills workshop. The program is a three semester, face-to-face family nurse practitioner program offering a personal, connected learning experience. Learn more about The W’s hybrid MSN program at:


March 9, 2023

Contact: Tyler Wheat

(662) 241-7863

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.