Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Experience outweighs stress in nursing college


The Capstone College of Nursing is a highly selective program, only taking 96 applicants twice a year into the upper division, but with that prestige comes a fair share of stress for those who do make into the respected upper division.

Students say some of that stress comes simply from trying to get in. Channing Kirkman, a junior, said she is still waiting to find out whether or not she is accepted into the upper division beginning in the fall.

“The wait to get in has been absolutely excruciating,” Kirkman said. “So many plans have been put on hold because there is no guarantee that I will be back for the fall.”

Kirkman said waiting to find out has left her in a state of limbo with her future and decisions, because she did not realize early on in the lower division how critical her GPA would be.

“I’ve been challenged in all of my classes, but I felt a false sense of security because I didn’t actually know how competitive getting in was going to be,” Kirkman said. “We had been given an average for getting in for both summer and fall semesters, but when it actually came time to apply, I realized the GPA that I had been working to keep was just not going to cut it compared to where the majority of GPAs were.”

Sara Barger, dean of the Capstone College of Nursing, explained why the college is so competitive. She said it is based on several factors.

“Classroom space is one, and faculty is another. Also, students have to have clinical experience, so there has to be a physical space for students to practice that.”

Barger said the average GPA varies every year, but on average, it runs 3.5 and above and has steadily increased over the past few years.

The program itself has also grown in recent years. Berger said just 15 years ago, the nursing program was only promoting 40 students to upper division twice a year, and now they promote 96 students twice each year.

Barger attributes the success of the nursing program to several aspects of the program.

“For one, we have a really strong clinically-oriented faculty,” she said. “Nursing is a practiced profession. You can’t just learn it in a book. So I think it begins with really good faculty.”

Clinical experience is the other factor that makes the program so strong, according to Berger.

“They really get more practice time than any nursing program I know of… If you have more clinical hours, you’re going to be more comfortable and skilled when you get out.”

Marie Eddins, a junior who just started the upper division of the nursing program, said she expects clinicals to be the most difficult part of upper division.

“I think the hardest part will be once we’re being judged on how we interact with the patients. It’s not just passing a test anymore – it’s overall if you can succeed in this as a career.”

Eddins said the workload is tough but manageable.

“Honestly, it’s not as horrendously all-consuming as I thought it would be, but it definitely is more difficult, and upper division has been a change.”

According to Berger, the students should see their hard work pay off.

“What I have been told by nurses in the area is that they hit the ground running because they are clinically competent. They are able to take care of patients more efficiently and better. They are already more skilled as practitioners.”

Barger said there are three things she consistently hears from head nurses that makes Capstone College of Nursing graduates so prepared.

“They say the graduates have such solid clinical knowledge, they demonstrate initiative, and they have a very strong work ethic.”

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