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“An Inside Look: The College of Nursing” ­— Learning to Play the Game

Marsha+Adams+Dean+of+Nursing.
Marsha Adams Dean of Nursing.

Marsha Adams Dean of Nursing.

Marsha Adams Dean of Nursing.

Sarah Jean Ruff, Staff Writer

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An Evaluation of the Nursing Program under the new leadership of Dean Marsha Adams and subsequent policy innovations using first-hand accounts of anonymous nursing students.

For the following article three different first year nursing students were interviewed. They will be referred to as Student 1, Student 2, and Student 3. In the interview, they were asked six questions about the quality and effectiveness of the restructured program that began under the leadership of Dean Marsha Adams. This program included changes in curriculum, grade requirements, and technology innovations.

Question 1 : Do you as a first year nursing student feel that the College of Nursing was prepared for all of the changes that have been initiated?

All three students admitted that the college was not ready for the battery of changes initiated. Student 1 suggested that perhaps the policies should have been staggered or implemented more slowly, though the faculty did the best it could to “roll with the punches.” Student 2 claimed that the changes were “pushed into action due to pressure from the new Dean wanting to prove herself” and that the faculty was blindsided, the new material having been given to them only a few weeks before classes began. The student also remarked that the professors should have been able to “guide us through it [the curriculum], rather than stumbling…with us.” Student 3 added that the administration has not heeded the concerns or complaints of the faculty.

Question 2: In your opinion, how has communication been between faculty members and students?

Student 1 said that the students rarely hear from the Dean; however, Dr. Frith (the associate dean) was quick to communicate information to the professors and was very open to discussing issues with students. The same student added that the faculty is “very accommodating with any questions or concerns we have.” Student 2 said that the Dean has made her vision clear to the professors, but that it has become a one-way street where the professors needs and objections are not heeded. The student discussed the lack of professor communication when it comes to using technology, especially for uploading assignments, finding PowerPoints, and using online textbooks. Each professor has differing opinions from the others (and the book) and grading requirements depend on who the grader is. Student 3 remarked that communication between the Dean and the professors only happens when there is a problem, and that questions from students about curriculum and resources are always referred back to the Dean.

Question 3: Would you rate your overall experience in nursing school at UAH as positive or negative?

Student 1 said that it goes both ways; this semester has seen more unified faculty than last semester. Although things appear to be getting better, things like correct paper formatting are still not being taught to students. The student adds that “we are left guessing upon what days and times we will have class and clinical.” The same student pointed out that nursing students are expected not to work while in school, which is hard for many people who have to pay bills and provide for families. Student 2 said that they would rate their experience overall as negative; the student enjoys the material itself but feels that “there are so many technological and political obstacles placed in front of us that is seems like we are learning to play the game of nursing school more than we are learning about how to be nurses.” The student adds that they have had a lot of great professors and experiences, but that “every day is a battle to win the game.” Student 3 commented on the stressful aspects of the program, a feeling of being lost, and of nobody knowing what is happening.

Question 4: Given the current fail rate, do you believe that UAH will continue to be rated as 5th best in Alabama for nursing students?

Student 1 said that while UAH will continue to be a great school for rising nurses, enrollment could decrease due to the high fail rate and an increasing verbalized discontent with the program itself. Student 2 claimed that she could “predict a steady decline” in UAH’s ratings, and that “word is getting out and people no longer want to go here, work here, or recommend this nursing program anymore.” Student 3 predicted changes that will make the program a better one, but that “some good nurses may have been lost along the way because of the confusion, stress, and just feeling like they made the wrong career choice.”

The participants also wanted to give some advice to future nursing students. Student 1 said to take advantage of free time when you have it and see your friends as much as possible before you start. Pay attention in Anatomy and Microbiology, always be 20 minutes early to class, pay attention in Pathophysiology and ask questions as soon as you think of them. Student 2 recommended finding a different nursing program, but no matter where you go realize that it is a major commitment, and do your research with other students and alumni. The student adds that “so far…I have been through [tough times] and back and we are only halfway through but we have a goal in front of us and will do anything to reach it. Determine if this is worth it to you.” Student 3 advised incoming students, “take all your expectations and get rid of them. Everything you thought you knew will not apply. And good luck!”

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“An Inside Look: The College of Nursing” ­— Learning to Play the Game