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Big Changes in Place in the College of Nursing

The University of Alabama, Hunts
Dr. Elizabeth Barnby works with undergraduate nursing students as they are given real world exercises using clinical simulators, September 1, 2015. .(Michael Mercier/UAH).

Molly Stalons, Staff Writer

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The Nursing Program transitioned its undergraduate curriculum from a medical model approach to a concept based curriculum. The new curriculum provides nursing students with more clinical time and hands on experiences. The teaching strategies of the College of Nursing faculty now focuses on collaborative learning in both the classroom and the clinical practice setting, as opposed to the old lecture based learning approach. Students now also take all course exams online using their personal laptops which better prepares them for the licensure exam.

The Early Promotion Program within the College of Nursing is open to all students who enter UAH as freshmen, declare Nursing as their major, and take all of their lower division Nursing coursework while maintaining specific criteria. Students who meet these requirements will be enrolled into the EPNP which guarantees them a slot in upper division Nursing courses. It is also expected that students enrolling in the EPNP will apply and enroll in the Honors College at UAH.

Several new courses have been implemented to help support the new curriculum such as an FYE course open only to committed freshmen nursing students. The aim of this course is to help them build a support network, connect with other nursing students, and get to know the nursing faculty. All nursing students are expected to take NUR 220, Health Promotion for Nursing Majors, during the fall of their Sophomore year. This course is geared towards teaching medical terminology and nurse’s role in healthy living. A new course will also be created that is dedicated to helping students prepare for the comprehensive standardized exam in the last semester and the licensure exam.

Admission into the upper division Nursing program includes taking the HESI Admission Assessment Exam, which is used as an entrance criterion by nursing schools in the U.S. In the upper division, students are expected to take a standardized exam (HESI) with each clinical course. These exams provide a probability score of how well each student has retained the information taught in the course. These exams are different from typical college exams in that students must use their own laptops to take the exam and they cannot go back and revisit questions while testing. This testing format helps prepare nursing students for the comprehensive standardized exam they will take the last semester of the program and for taking the licensure exam.

Students have reported feeling more comfortable taking the HESI exam when already familiar with the testing procedure and test formatting. Since the College of Nursing has been implementing these new testing procedures, final HESI exams scores have improved. For those students who might be struggling with the Nursing Program or the curriculum changes, the Dean advises, “Nursing is hard, we have a very rigorous program here, but we also have many retention strategies in place to help anyone who might be struggling. We want our nursing students to be successful.”

The new Nursing Building helps support the new changes taking place. The building is divided into north and south wings. Many of the classrooms have a setup conducive to powering multiple laptops for the exams, and this addition has allowed the College of Nursing to create a new, larger clinical practice space.

The North Wing also has the new Learning and Technology Resource Center, complete with a 16 bed hospital lab, a 16 table assessment room, four clinical examination rooms, five simulation rooms, an Obstetric/Pediatric four bed laboratory, an IV practice room, a Pyxis medication room, and a home-health simulation room. This facility was created to help nursing students practice hands on learning and clinical care. Some of these rooms are created specially to mimic real nursing facilities. Along with the new facilities, the College of Nursing received a grant funding the purchase of telehealth robots from Double Robotics.

For more information about Early Promotion into the UAH Nursing Program visit For UAH College of Nursing updates follow them on Facebook and Twitter @UAHNursing.

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The student news source of The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Big Changes in Place in the College of Nursing