New nursing program starts

An Internet-based partnership between the University and Bishop State Community College was finalized on April 15, allowing registered nurses to receive advanced nursing degrees from the Capstone through online courses, according to a UA news release.

“The RN students are required to complete the same core curriculum that our traditional [bachelor of science] students complete,” said Jeanette VanderMerr, associate professor and RN mobility coordinator. “Several of these courses have already been completed during the program of study for their [associate’s] degree [in nursing].  When they complete the core, they have six nursing courses to complete online — three semesters of two courses each semester.”

Since the students are registered nurses with licenses to practice, it’s unnecessary for the program to monitor their clinical activities.

“The faculty in the three courses with clinical activities are responsible for working with the student to determine where they will complete the clinical activities,” VanderMerr said. “Usually, a staff RN in the facility [or] agency where they complete their clinical will serve as their … mentor.”

This isn’t the nursing program’s first partnership. The University partners with 15 associate degree in nursing programs at community colleges, and there are 10 partnerships with clinical agencies. VanderMerr said the program began in 1998.

The community college affiliates include Shelton State, Wallace State and Snead State, according to a document provided by Linda Cox, program assistant at the Capstone College of Nursing. Its 10 clinical agencies include DHS Health System and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, both of which are located in Tuscaloosa.

VanderMerr said the number of participants at each site varies.

“Nationally, only about 5 percent of the ADN graduates ever return to school to advance their education,” she said. “That is one reason we are trying to facilitate the process by allowing them to take the core course at Bishop and to complete their nursing courses online with clinicals close to home.”

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