Mitch Emmons (firstname.lastname@example.org)
COMBINED PROGRAMS WILL BETTER PREPARE NURSING PROFESSIONALS
AUBURN -- Redesign in the nursing curriculums at Auburn University and AU at Montgomery with consolidation of the two programs in fall 1998 will produce nurses better prepared to meet the challenges of the profession in the 21st century.
"The demand will be for nurses that can function independently with more emphasis on home and community-based health care," said Charlotte Pitts, acting dean of Auburn's School of Nursing.
Traditional nursing instruction has focused largely on the hospital
environment, according to Pitts.
"Nurses were trained to work primarily in the hospital environment," she said. "With health care reform, patients are being discharged from the hospital sooner. They are going home still ill in many cases. The nursing professional must be trained to extend care beyond the hospital and into the community."
Under Auburn's current nursing structure there is a traditional nursing program, an accelerated degree program and a program for registered nurses completing four-year degrees.
AUM, although it offers no accelerated degree program, is structured similarly.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham's outreach master's program is offered in collaboration with Auburn's School of Nursing.
"The bulk of our students at Auburn are here for the Auburn experience," Pitts said. "They are in the traditional program and if this were not available, they would likely select another major.
"However, we have approximately 50 students in the accelerated degree program and in the degree-completion program."
Students in the accelerated degree program already have bachelor's degrees in some other field, Pitts explained. Degree-completion students are already-working registered nurses who obtained their basic nursing education through two-year and diploma programs, but now are wanting to expand their education to a professional four-year degree.
"These students are the ones who reflect the impact of changes that are occurring in health care," Pitts said. "They see the need for additional home health care and community training and for experience in the management aspects of nursing."
"We are at the point of professional curriculum revision," added Associate Professor Jenny Hamner. "We both (AU and AUM) have a tremendous amount of strengths, and together, we can substantially expand and enhance nursing in this area of the state."