Bachelor prepared RNs are a hot commodity in Alabama as the Alabama Board of Nursing, RN employers, and professional nursing associations continue to focus efforts on expanding accessibility to bachelor’s-level education for the nursing workforce.
As the driving force for transforming healthcare in Alabama through nursing, the Alabama Health Action Coalition recognizes that nurses play a tremendous role in high-quality healthcare. One of the major goals of the Coalition is to increase the number of nurses with BSN degrees to ensure they are prepared to handle the challenges of healthcare in the 21st century.
Reflecting the Institute of Medicine’s call to action to increase the number of BSN nurses to 80% of the total nursing population by 2020, a number of colleges in Alabama have initiated their own “80 by 20” task forces, many of which work to bring together colleges and nurse leaders to identify and remove barriers to progression across nursing degree programs.
Pre-Licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs in Alabama
In 2013, there were 5,371 nursing students enrolled in Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs in Alabama. A BSN program in Alabama generally consists of 128 semester hours of coursework, which include both general education and professional nursing courses.
BSN pre-licensure programs, although not required for RN licensure in Alabama, are often chosen over associate’s degrees in nursing because they open up more professional opportunities for RNs. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recognize that bachelor-prepared RNs are able to practice across multiple settings and function with more independence in a number of areas, including clinical decision making and support of unlicensed personnel.
A BSN degree is also the necessary prerequisite for acceptance into a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, a must for research, administrative and advance practice positions.
Many students pursue BSN programs through online institutions, as these types of programs may offer a more flexible schedule.
There are also currently 15 Board-approved pre-licensure BSN programs at campus locations in the following cities:
BSN Admission Requirements in Alabama
Although each institution in Alabama offering a BSN program will have its own set of specific admission requirements, most programs require students to complete all general education requirements with an overall GPA of at least 2.5 before they are accepted into the nursing program.
Acceptance into the BSN nursing major component of the program also typically requires the completion of an application, letters of recommendation, a review of the applicant’s work history, and the completion of a personal statement.
A number of BSN programs are also designed for individuals who already possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college in another discipline. These accelerated programs allow students to complete their BSN program in less time because they can transfer many of the general education courses. Like a traditional BSN program, students must have achieved a minimum GPA in their prerequisites to transfer credits.
BSN Program Curriculum and Structure
During the first two years of a BSN program, students can expect to complete general education courses in humanities and in the biological, physical, and behavioral sciences, all of which provide a foundation of knowledge for a career in nursing.
The last two years of a BSN program includes clinical and non-clinical professional nursing courses, which include:
- Role of the Professional Nurse
- Fundamentals of Professional Nursing
- Community Health Nursing
- Adult Health Nursing
- Health and Physical Assessment
- Mental Health Nursing
- Pharmacology in Nursing
- Research in Nursing
- Maternity Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing
- Leadership and Management in Nursing
Clinical Rotation Requirements in BSN Programs
Clinical rotations in a BSN program make up a large portion of a student’s third and four years. Students in online BSN programs are also required to complete their clinical rotations through local hospitals and community health clinics.
Just a few of the locations in Alabama where clinical rotations take place include:
- Children’s of Alabama, Birmingham
- Huntsville Hospital, Huntsville
- Crestwood Medical Center, Huntsville
- Stringfellow Memorial Hospital, Anniston
- Springhill Medical Center, Mobile
The Licensure Process for BSN-Prepared Nurses in Alabama
Upon the completion of a BSN program in Alabama, students may apply for their RN license through the Alabama Board of Nursing.
The licensing process includes first applying for licensure through the Board’s online portal. All new BSN graduates must take and pass the NCLEX-RN to achieve licensure as an RN in Alabama. Exam candidates can apply to take the NCLEX-RN through third party exam provider, Pearson Vue.
Candidates may take the examination in any one of the many Pearson Vue testing centers located in Alabama, including:
The cost of taking the NCLEX-RN is $200. Candidates may not take the NCLEX until they are made eligible by the Board of Nursing, which includes receiving an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter from Pearson Vue.
Candidates may receive their official results within 48 hours of testing.
Additional information on taking the NCLEX can be found through the NCLEX Candidate Bulletin.
Nurse Residency Programs in Alabama for New Graduates
Nurse residency programs, which have become commonplace throughout the United States, are designed to fill the gap between school and practice, allowing new nursing graduates to continue a course of education, mentoring, and support as they transition into the nursing practice.
Some of the hospitals in Alabama that offer nurse residency programs include:
- DCH Regional Medical Center
- South Baldwin Regional Medical Center
- Southeast Alabama Medical Center
- Vincent’s Alabama
- Baptist Healthcare of Alabama
- East Alabama Medical Center
- Flowers Hospital
- Providence Hospital Alabama
- Gadsden Regional Medical Center
- University of Alabama Hospital
- Brookwood Medical Center
- Children’s of Alabama