Few career fields can have such a positive, far-reaching impact on your community as nursing. Patients often spend more time interacting with their nurses than with any other care provider. If you take your education further with a Master's degree in nursing, you can have even more of an influence on your patients.
Alabama's nursing leaders have put a concentrated effort into encouraging more nurses to pursue graduate education, and their efforts seem to be paying off. A 2008 survey revealed that 19 percent of Alabama intended to pursue an MSN degree within the next five years. Still, the state needs more young nurses to enroll in graduate school. At present, most Alabama nurses who complete a graduate degree are within five years of retirement when they come out of school. Young master's-prepared nurses are needed to fill the ranks. Alabama also needs more master's-prepared nurse educators to teach incoming LPN, RN and BSN students.
MSN programs for Alabama nurses
When you look at all of Alabama's MSN programs, it's clear that there's quite a range of specialties to choose from. Depending on your interests, previous education, and work experience, you may be able to concentrate on fields like pediatric primary care, nurse anesthesia, rural case management, and nursing education.
Admissions requirements differ from school to school. Generally speaking, most advanced Alabama nursing programs require a Bachelor's degree in nursing. There are a few RN to MSN programs that allow Associate's degree holders to complete a Bachelor's degree and Master's degree at the same time. In addition, several programs permit those with non-nursing Bachelor's degrees to earn a nursing license and Master's degree concurrently.
With the exception of these RN to MSN programs, most nursing programs in Alabama take between two and four years of study. You may complete between 30 and 55 credits of study, depending on which specialty you pursue. Non-clinical programs like nurse leadership, nurse informatics, and nurse education may have lower credit requirements than clinical programs like nurse anesthesia, nurse midwifery, and nurse practitioner.
Your curriculum may include a range of theory, practical, and research courses. Courses commonly required of all higher-level nursing students include Leadership in Advanced Practice Nursing, Translating Evidence Into Practice, and Pharmacology & Physiology.
You may wish to begin preparing for your Master's degree in nursing by applying for scholarships. Looking for grants and scholarships can minimize the amount of student debt you take on as a graduate student. Some scholarships are school-specific. For example, the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing offers several dozen nursing scholarships to current and incoming students. The Alabama Board of Nursing awards graduate scholarships to students all over the state. You may wish to apply for the Alabama Nurses Foundation Scholarship, which is worth $1,250.
Professional organizations for Alabama's advanced practice nurses include Alabama Advanced Practice Council, Alabama Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Alabama State Nurses Association, North Alabama Nurse Practitioner Association and West Alabama Nurse Practitioners. You may want to contact these organizations in regards to financial assistance as well.
- University of Alabama at Birmingham. UAB offers a wide variety of master's-level nurse practitioner programs, including some unique dual NP programs, such as Nurse Practitioner Adult Acute and Continuing Care with Secondary specialization in Registered Nurse First Assistant. MSN students can also obtain a master's degree in Nursing Informatics or Clinical Research Management.
- Auburn University. Auburn prepares MSN-level nurse educators, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. Some courses are offered fully online, while others are a combination of online and in-person learning. MSN students at Auburn can enroll full or part-time.
Careers in Alabama for Master's Prepared Nurses
Alabama can be a promising place to begin a career in advanced nursing. Alabama nursing homes have a patient satisfaction rate that exceeds the national average as stated on NASDAQ. If you specialize in gerontology nursing, you can contribute to this high-level of patient satisfaction.
If you wish to work with a broader part of the population, you may consider becoming a nurse practitioner. Per WTVY, a law passed in 2013 expands the scope of practice of Nurse Practitioners. Given the fact that 61 of Alabama's 67 counties have a primary care shortage, this may be one of the fastest growing specialties in advanced nursing.
Nurse education is another rapidly-growing field that requires an MSN degree. According to AL.com, registered nurses are the most in-demand professionals in the state. Part of this shortage is due to wait lists at community and technical colleges, which can be alleviated by a greater availability of nursing instructors.
After graduation, your career options may be determined by which type of degree you have. According to O*Net, Alabama nurse practitioners earn a median salary of $86,300 per year. Nurse anesthetists, who may work primarily in operating rooms or labor & delivery wards, earn a median salary of $144,600 annually (O*Net, 2013). If you'd prefer to take on more of a leadership or management role in your institution, you may want to become a health services manager. The average salary for this role is $86,600 per year (O*Net, 2013).
Once you have an idea of which types of graduate nursing degrees you are interested in learning more about, contact the schools that offer them and request more information. We are dedicated to transforming the future of nursing, one educated nurse at a time, and we are happy to help you on your way!