When Dr. Denise Bynum moved into Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Benton Apartments as a nursing student 35 years ago, she could never have dreamed she would become director of the Nursing Division one day. Today, she works in the building next to the dorms where she lived as a student.
Bynum has been an instructor at Northwest for 22 years, teaching Nursing Foundations to incoming freshman nursing students and pharmacology classes. “I always loved teaching the new students, helping them and watching them grow,” Bynum said. “I am going to miss that. I loved being with my students, but I felt I needed a new challenge after 22 years.”
Bynum said she plans to teach some lectures and the Sophomore Nursing Seminar that is traditionally taught by the nursing director. She also plans to visit the students’ clinical sites to network with staff and administrators and see the students in the clinical setting, and will also visit classrooms. She says she is still involved with the Student Nurses Association also.
Her goals as director include continuing with programs that have recently been put into place, such as The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) RN-MSN Early Entry program and the Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) to Registered Nursing (RN) Transition program. The Early Entry bridge program allows students who meet certain requirements to earn their master’s degree in seven to nine semesters after graduating from Northwest, and the summer LPN to RN transition course enables LPNs who meet certain requirements to enter the college’s Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program at a sophomore level in the fall. “We have so many great programs in place now, that I just want to see them continue and grow,” Bynum said. She stated that the division is currently working on a dual enrollment program with UMMC that will allow students who meet certain requirements to take bachelor-level courses while they are students at Northwest in order to expedite getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
She plans to continue with the “Shoot for the Heart” fundraiser the division has been involved with each spring for the past few years, and hopes to put a community advisory board into place this fall. The board would be made up of members of the nursing, education and business communities. “I think this is important. We can keep them abreast of what is going on in our program, and also take suggestions from them on how we can improve,” Bynum said.
Bynum earned her associate degree in nursing in 1981. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from The University of Memphis and her master’s degree in community health and family nursing from The University of Tennessee. In 2012, she earned her Ph.D. in nursing from The University of Mississippi Medical Center. Additionally, she has taught as an adjunct at The University of Memphis and Union University. She was on staff at Baptist Memorial Hospital- DeSoto in the Critical Care Unit and Emergency Department for several years. Bynum has had her work published in books and nursing journals.
Bynum’s honors include National Organization of Associate Degree Nursing Educator of the Year, 2005; Educator of the Year, Tate County Economic Development Foundation, 2001; The Oneita Dongieux Award for Excellence, Mississippi Nurses Foundation, 2011; Elsevier Doctoral Book Award for Scholastic Excellence, 2007 and 2008 and the Judith Wilkinson Scholarship in 2011. She is a member of the Mississippi Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau, and the National and Mississippi Organization for Associate Degree Nursing. She served as M-OADN board secretary from 2006-2010.
Bynum credits her predecessors Vicki Hale and Dr. Ellen Williams, as well as the nursing faculty at Northwest, for being a part of her success as a nurse educator. “I had excellent role models and mentors in Ellen and Vicki. I watched them and they mentored me over the years, and I know that will help me in this new role. I also feel like we have the best nursing faculty anywhere. I know with us working together, we can face any challenge that comes along,” Bynum said.
Bynum said that the incoming class of 90 this fall will be the largest in the history of the division. “I’ve always wanted my students to learn and be the best nurses they could be out there, and that is still my goal. I always want to do what is best for the students,” Bynum said.
Story by LaJuan Tallo, Communications Assistant