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11/19/2021 - Jackson, Miss.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the topic of health, including mental health, to the forefront for many Mississippians, their families, businesses, and organizations. Many Mississippians are seeking information on the best methods for preventing and treating illnesses and leading healthier lives. Mississippi Public Universities provide numerous resources to help address these issues, while also training the next generation of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Mississippi Public Universities also conduct research that help solve some of our most pressing health problems.

The Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at the University of Mississippi prepares future public health professionals for roles in community health, health policy, education and administration. Courses such as the health equity class prepare students to work with diverse populations, and applied learning experiences ensure MPH graduates are ready to join the workforce to promote health and tackle pressing public health issues. The MPH concentration in community health places special emphasis on the application of public health theory and science to the planning, administration and evaluation of community health programs. The MPH degree program includes a practicum experience and prepares graduates for both the Certified in Public Health (CPH) and Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exams.

The William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing at the University of Mississippi is dedicated to being a national leader for alcohol and other drug prevention, intervention, support and research. The university's existing William Magee Center for Wellness Education, with its primary focus on preventing substance abuse and providing resources to students seeking help, is included under the institute's umbrella. The Magee Institute will work beyond campus with stakeholders from around the state and nation to research and create solutions for students and families. The goal is for the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing to become a place where communities gather to have difficult conversations about what is inhibiting well-being, create and define solutions, and engage in the hard work needed to make solutions realities.

Established by Congress in 1989, the Institute for Child Nutrition (ICN), part of the University of Mississippi's School of Applied Sciences, is the only federally funded national center that provides information and services for the continuous improvement of child nutrition programs.

Even in during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Mississippi Medical Center logged groundbreaking accomplishments and many proud moments as it persevered in its missions of health care, research and education.

UMMC scientists brought in a record $82.3 million in research dollars and took part in 79 clinical trials, some of them with partners at other research institutions. Of that number, 23 focused on solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, including safe and effective treatment and vaccines.

Children's of Mississippi, UMMC's statewide pediatric arm, in November opened the state-of-the-art Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower. It houses 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, 32 private pediatric intensive care rooms, a dozen cutting-edge surgical suites, a pediatric imaging center and a multidisciplinary outpatient specialty clinic.

UMMC partnered in late March 2020 with the Mississippi State Department of Health and other agencies to offer drive-through COVID testing at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in Jackson and dozens of sites statewide. UMMC researchers, clinicians and technologists swiftly created their own laboratory developed COVID-19 test and began using it in-house by March 26, 2020. Today, the Medical Center processes tests given to Medical Center patients and employees and to those using the MSDH testing sites, with that number topping 161,000 as of Dec. 30, 2020.

Through it all, the Medical Center's front-line staff has worked tirelessly to care for those stricken by the virus and continues to serve as a leading voice in explaining the virus and conveying the urgency of stopping the COVID-19 spread. At the same time, caregivers did what they do all day, every day, for those not coping with COVID-19: provide exemplary treatment for Mississippi's sickest of the sick.

UMMC and its partner institutions Tougaloo College, Jackson State University and the Mississippi Department of Health together operate the Jackson Heart Study, the nation's largest long-term study of cardiovascular and related diseases in African-Americans. The Jackson Heart Study team recently began holding in-person visits for Exam 4. During Exam 4, Jackson Heart Study participants complete an informed consent process and questionnaires on family and medical history, food intake and brain health. The physical, "high-touch" procedures include height, weight, blood pressure and waist circumference measurements, as well as blood and urine samples. Patients also receive an echocardiogram and electrocardiogram, which look at heart function.

The JHS has been preparing for Exam 4 since 2018, when the National Institutes of Health renewed the study's funding until 2024. The study has continued with its regular activities: annual follow-up calls with participants, publishing research, training students, holding community events and scientific sessions. During the COVID-induced exam delay, they hired new employees, conducted some of the participant questionnaires by telephone, rewrote exam protocols to meet enhanced safety standards, and piloted the new procedures to ensure things would go smoothly when they re-opened.

Last summer, the University of Mississippi Medical Center received a four-year, multimillion-dollar grant called IMPACT the RACE Rural Track Program. The award from the Health Resources and Services Administration, a federal agency, to the School of Medicine is, at $1.9 million a year, worth at least $7.6 million, not including a $5 million supplement the school is eligible for at the end of a year. The purpose of the grant is explicit in its unabbreviated title: Improved Primary Care for the Rural Community through Medical Education.

It is making possible substantial changes in the courses all medical students take, including offering a curriculum focused on the rewards and challenges of rural health care. It is helping put more medical students in rural areas during their clinical training, connecting the School of Medicine with local physicians, and putting even greater weight on relationships between the school and rural hospitals and residency programs: For instance, medical students can now spend a significant portion of their clinical medical training in a rural setting such as UMMC Grenada or at Magnolia Regional Hospital in Corinth. The grant also provides for enrichment of the Mercy Delta Express Project, which offers health-education services to school children in the Mississippi Delta.

The University of Southern Mississippi's School of Speech and Hearing Sciences consists of audiology, education of the deaf, and speech-language pathology. Academic programs include bachelor's degrees in education of the deaf and speech pathology and audiology; master's degrees in education of the deaf and speech-language pathology; as well as a clinical doctorate of audiology. USM's eleven-semester, four-year doctoral program addresses normal and abnormal communication processes, assessment, treatment, and prevention over the lifespan. Doctoral program curriculum emphasizes writing skills and a knowledge and application of research techniques. The doctoral program leads to the clinical doctorate of audiology (Au.D.) and is accredited by Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

The University of Southern Mississippi's School of Psychology includes diverse experts from the areas of clinical, counseling, school, and brain and behavior. Faculty experts provide comprehensive, hands-on training both in and out of the classroom. USM's School of Psychology has a long history of supporting the University and surrounding communities through research and psychological service in schools and business, and through providing low-cost mental health services to residents of South Mississippi. Training facilities include mental health clinics and research labs, which allow students to take concepts learned in class and apply them to solve important societal problems. Academic programs include a bachelor of science degree in psychology and a master of science in counseling psychology. USM's Ph.D. programs in psychology feature emphases in clinical, counseling, and school psychology and are all accredited by the American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation. The school also features an experimental brain and behavior Ph.D. program.

The Alcorn State University Cora S. Balmat School of Nursing has a proud tradition of graduating competent, caring, professional nurses who make a difference in their communities and beyond. The School of Nursing was founded in 1977 and has produced hundreds of entry-level and advanced practice nurses employed in a variety of healthcare settings. The School of Nursing provides a state-of-the-art learning environment that will enable students to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to provide safe, effective, client-centered care. The School of Nursing is organized into two academic programs: undergraduate and graduate. The undergraduate programs consist of the Associate of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The graduate program includes the Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Also, Alcorn's School of Nursing operates the ASU Family Clinic, which is open five days a week to serve the medical and healthcare needs of Alcorn students, faculty, staff, and residents of Natchez and surrounding communities. The clinic is staffed with a family nurse practitioner to provide accessible, cost-effective health care and emphasizes health promotion, disease prevention, and acute episodic outpatient medical care.

Delta State University is helping to fill the need for highly-trained nurses by offering the only Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, Post-Master's Certification and Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs in the Mississippi Delta. The numerous degree offerings in the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing regularly rank high for quality, affordability, and efficiency. The School of Nursing has been ranked several times as the best online RN to BSN Programs in Mississippi and boasts near-perfect NCLEX pass rates each year. The master's degree program has been recognized as one of the 10 most affordable online master's degree programs in the nation. In addition, DSU's Doctor of Nursing Practice/Family Nurse Practitioner online program placed fifth in the U.S. for affordability and was listed among the 12 shortest to complete. All of Delta State's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

In addition, Delta State's Speech and Hearing Sciences department offers the only undergraduate program in Mississippi in which 100% of graduates obtain hands-on experience and clinical clock hours through working with actual clients in Delta State's on-campus clinic. Delta State's Speech and Hearing Science students gain an extensive experience and are introduced to a broad spectrum of communicative disorders. Graduates of the program are academically and clinically prepared for graduate-level study in speech-language pathology or related disciplines such as audiology, linguistics, special education, and psychology.

Jackson State University's RCMI Center for Health Disparities Research (RCHDR) develops and implements innovative research to advance the science of health disparities, and the training of the next generation of health disparities researchers. RCHDR's mission is to develop an efficient and robust biomedical infrastructure that will allow JSU investigators to conduct innovative biomedical, behavioral, and or clinical research aimed at improving minority health and reducing or eliminating health disparities.

The Master of Science in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion with a concentration in Health Promotion at Mississippi State University is designed to develop practitioners with the skills and competencies to effectively assess, design, implement, evaluate health promotion programs in a variety of settings. Students learn to plan, implement, and evaluate comprehensive, multi-faceted approaches to health using a shared framework for change at the individual and environmental level.

MSU's Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology trains psychological scientists who complete their training prepared for either an academic career, or for service to the community as a scientifically informed clinical practitioner. The curriculum emphasizes cutting-edge theoretical and empirical advances in the field of clinical psychology. This includes coursework in methodology, statistics, theory and assessment of psychopathology, and psychotherapy application, as well as completion of a master's thesis and doctoral dissertation.

Mississippi State is on the frontlines of equine therapy research and establishing solid mental health programs that can positively impact college students and the community.

As the state's only public institution offering a Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, MSU-Meridian is positioning students for what U.S. News & World Report calls the nation's top-ranked career.

As a research institution with deep roots in Mississippi's agricultural communities, Mississippi State University is extending a helping hand - and in some cases, a lifeline - to vulnerable individuals by focusing resources on mental health first aid and substance abuse awareness and prevention. As experts working on the front lines of agriculture and other areas impacting families across the state, MSU Extension agents play a key role in the university's outreach strategy. MSU is providing mental health first-aid training for agents in all 82 counties to help them better identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health challenges and crises in their communities.

Faculty researchers in Mississippi State's Department of Psychology are developing a more comprehensive approach to statewide youth suicide prevention and intervention with plans to train more youth suicide gatekeepers and address the gaps in other key areas such as postvention and mental health clinician recruitment.

With more than 70 percent of its graduates pursuing medical-related careers, MSU Extension's Rural Medical & Science Scholars program is inspiring young minds to impact community health care throughout Mississippi.

This fall, Mississippi University for Women's online public health degree was announced as No. 2 nationally in an online ranking. In the 15 Best Online Bachelor's in Public Health for 2021, besthealthdegrees.com highlighted The W's online public health degree, affordability, and course offerings.

"This recognition that The W offers opportunities for students to enter an interesting and important field and allows them to prepare for this career online is important. Recent events like the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have shined a spotlight on public health and our students will be prepared to serve as public health professionals," said Irene Pintado, professor of health education at The W.


The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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