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Challenge and Opportunity: RN to BSN Programs in Alabama

Key nursing organizations like ANA and the AACN are urging diploma and ADN level RNs to complete their baccalaureate degrees. There are a lot of reasons, but they generally fit under two banners: challenge and opportunity. The medical establishment is making technological advances on a daily basis, and the healthcare system is altering to meet the needs of rural and diverse populations. Nurses are in a position to offer preventative care and health management services out in the community, but expanding roles signal a need for more education.

As a BSN student, you will grow more adept at health assessment and at nursing those with more complex healthcare needs. You will also take classes that help place nursing roles within a family, community, and sociological context. Typical classes include nursing informatics, community health nursing, and nursing across cultures.

Chances are you are already very proficient at what you do, but you may be exposed to issues and opportunities that you didn’t know existed. Writing blog posts to promote healthy habits within the community? It’s just one thing that a health educator or public health nurse might find herself doing! You will probably also put in some clinical hours, though the requirements will be lower than in a program that leads to initial licensure. At the University of South Alabama, for example, you must complete 120 in an area where you do not have previous experience.

Many nurses see the BSN not as a terminal degree, but as another step along the way. The demand for graduate level advanced practice nurses is very high, and the baccalaureate can help you develop academic skills like research. Some registered nurses choose to enroll in combined programs where they can earn a BSN and then continue on seamlessly to get a master’s. They may even be able to make some course substitutions which will earn them graduate credit. This option is available in Alabama. Other nurses enroll in an RN to BS program and, as it nears completion, look into graduate programs in a particular specialty area.

BSN Career Mobility in Alabama

BSN candidates are often favored for unit manager and other leadership positions. This is especially true at magnet hospitals, where there are quotas in place that guide hiring. As of January 2011, magnet hospital have been required to have at least three-fourths of their nurse managers hold degrees at the baccalaureate level or higher. The facilities may have some long-term employees who don’t yet have the credential, but it is generally a requirement for new hires. Alabama currently has two magnet hospitals, Children’s Health System and UAB University Hospital, both in Birmingham. UAB University Hospital also prefers the BSN for a wide range of direct care positions.

Health educator, community educator, and case manager are among the other roles that may be reserved for candidates with baccalaureate degrees.

RN to BSN Program Considerations: The Search Process

There are different types of program available within Alabama. Online programs are the most flexible option, and for many, the easiest to fit into a busy schedule. Hybrid programs combine distance learning with some on-campus classes. Students may, for example, be required to travel to campus one or two days per month. If you prefer a more traditional learning environment with regular classroom attendance, this is also an option.

You may be enrolled in a separate track for registered nurses or you may be granted advanced placement within the traditional BSN program. The latter is more likely to occur if you seek a traditional program. If you’ve been out of the classroom a while -- and you’re at all self conscious of the fact -- you may feel more comfortable in a program where all your classmates are your peers.

How long will you need to take classes? Two years is typical, but it varies. You may finish in as little as two semesters, or you may complete a program little by little over a span of four or five years.

RN to BSN Programs in Alabama

Auburn University - Montgomery

Jacksonville State University

Oakwood University

The University of Alabama (multiple branches)

Troy University

Tuskegee University

University of Mobile

University of North Alabama

University of South Alabama

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