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

High academic standards pay off for UA Nursing students

Beads of sweat roll down each student’s neck as alarms ring to let them know that their patients — or in this case, high-tech computer-based mannequins — are unstable and need immediate attention.

Pressure is heavy in the room as professors observe every move from behind a glass wall.

This is a typical day for a University of Alabama upper-division nursing student, one of the most rigorous undergraduate programs at the Capstone.

“Nursing is difficult,” said Kelsey Williamson, a senior and forth-semester nursing student. “There are days when I leave the hospital extremely tired from working all day only to come home to study for a test the next day. One has to give it their all knowing one day they will be able to make a difference in someone’s life.”

The process of getting into the Capstone College of Nursing is difficult in itself. Unlike most other majors at the University, prospective nursing students must go through a strenuous application process before starting upper-division courses their junior year.

The Capstone College of Nursing takes applications each summer and fall, accepting 96 students each term. This summer, 96 out of 199 eligible applicants were accepted. In the fall, 96 were taken from a group of 188.

Brooke Hail, a junior first-semester nursing student, found out she was accepted to nursing school July 18, just a few weeks prior to the start of class.

“It’s very stressful knowing from day one that you’re competing against many other outstanding academic students to try to be accepted,” Hail said.

Applicants are judged on their overall GPA as well as their GPA in science courses for their first two years in college. The average overall GPA for nursing students accepted into the program for summer was a 3.9, with a 3.8 average in science courses, and in the fall it was a 3.7 overall, with a 3.5 in science courses.

First-semester nursing student Danielle Drews said it is easier to get in during the fall because the GPA averages are typically lower.

Once accepted, nursing students spend their first semester in the classroom learning the basics of nursing. Second semester, they begin simulations and clinicals where they get hands-on nursing practice in a doctor’s office or hospital.

Alice March, an associate professor of nursing, said the curriculum is made to be difficult because when students graduate, they are going to be taking people’s lives into their hands.

“When I look up from the emergency room bed, I want to know that nurse went through a rigorous program,” March said.

Hail said she definitely feels the pressure of being responsible for another human being and is aware if she does not know what she is doing, it could result in someone’s death.

“At UA that is something they stress constantly to us – to learn the information, retain it and comprehend not for you but for your patients so you can be the best nurse possible,” Hail said.

Paige Johnson, associate professor of nursing, said all the hard work students put in is worth it when they are able to graduate and easily find a job doing what they enjoy.

“Healthcare is one of the best fields to go into,” Johnson said. “Our graduates will get a job. They may not get to pick and choose, but they will have a job.”

Johnson said between 98 to 100 percent of Capstone nursing graduates pass the National Council Licensure Examination to become a registered nurse upon graduation.

“All of the hard work is worth it in the end,” Drews said, “or at least it better be.”

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