The Alabama Board of Nursing, which oversees more than 85,000 licensed nurses in the State, recognizes the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Future of Nursing report, which strongly recommends academic progression for nurses.
As such, it comes as no surprise that there are currently seven RN to MSN programs in Alabama for the practicing registered nurse who wants to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing so as to enjoy opportunities in advanced practice nursing, as well as in clinical leadership, education and administration.
Institutions offering RN to MSN programs in Alabama are located in cities such as:
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported that as of 2013, there were 3,780 students enrolled in master’s degree programs. During the same period, 3,173 nursing students were studying to become graduate-prepared Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs); which included:
- Nurse practitioners: 3,648
- Certified registered nurse anesthetists: 157
- Clinical nurse specialists: 58
RN to MSN Programs in Alabama
RN to MSN programs in Alabama are designed specifically for the nurse who has already completed a diploma, associate degree, or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) for initial RN licensure.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that RN to MSN programs, which are structured s to recognize the education and experience already gained by associate, diploma- or BSN-prepared RNs, are becoming a popular option for nurses who are opting to build upon their initial RN licensure education and achieve a graduate degree, thereby opening doors to leadership and specialty roles.
Many of today’s RN to MSN programs in Alabama are offered solely online, while others offer students a hybrid experience of both online and on-campus classes. Some institutions award the BSN upon completion of the required coursework, while others award both degrees after the completion of both the BSN and the MSN coursework.
RN to MSN programs in Alabama may be offered on a part- or full-time basis, with a full-time program taking between 2 and 3 years to complete.
RN to MSN programs are designed to allow students to complete the BSN and MSN content in less than time than the traditional pathway of achieving the BSN and then the MSN. It is common for RN to MSN students in Alabama to enroll concurrently in BSN and MSN courses (called bridge courses).
Although admission requirements vary from one institution to the next, all RN to MSN program in Alabama require students to hold a valid and unencumbered RN license. Many RN to MSN programs require RNs to have at least one year of clinical experience under their belt before they enroll, while other programs allow students to gain their clinical experience while enrolled in the RN to MSN program.
It is typical for RN to MSN programs in Alabama to require candidates to possess strong GPAs in their undergraduate coursework before acceptance into the MSN program can take place. Candidates must also typically achieve minimum scores on either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Millers Analogies Test (MAT).
Most RN to MSN programs allow students to transfer up to 60 credits upon admission on to the program. Further, some Alabama institutions grant additional undergraduate credits based on the student’s work experience.
RN to MSN Specialty Areas/Tracks
Most RN to MSN programs in Alabama offer a number of specialty areas, or tracks, in which students can specialize their MSN education. Because specialty areas offered by institutions vary, students should ensure that the program they choose offers the tracks of interest to them.
Tracks for RN to MSN programs in Alabama may include:
- Clinical nurse leader
- Nurse educator
- Leadership and management
- Nurse practitioner
- Nurse midwife
- Nurse anesthetist
- Community health
Students studying to be a CRNP or CNS in Alabama may focus their RN to MSN program on a specific population, such as:
- Acute care
- Family practice
- Women’s health
Most RN to MSN programs in Alabama consist of 60 graduate-level credit hours. The majority of undergraduate (BSN) coursework is completed during the first semester or two of the program.
Graduate courses found within RN to MSN programs include:
- Transition to Professional Practice
- Clinical Prevention and Population Health
- Healthcare Research and Introduction to Statistics
- Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology
- Clinical prevention and population health
Curriculum requirements in an RN to MSN program in Alabama also depend on the specialization/track which the student chooses. For example, graduate courses in an RN to MSN program with a nurse practitioner track include:
- Family Practice, Care of Adults
- Family Practice, Care of Women
- Family Practice, Care of Children
- Common Diagnostics and Procedures
An RN to MSN program with a nurse educator track, on the other hand, includes classes such as:
- Advanced Health Assessment for Nurse Educators
- Principles of Teaching –Learning and Student Evaluation
- Educational Theory and Curriculum Development
How to Become an Advanced Practice Nurse in Alabama
The Alabama Board of Nursing grants approval for Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) in four categories, all of which require an MSN degree in the corresponding APN category:
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Applicants for APN certification in Alabama must successfully achieve advanced practice specialty certification through a national certifying agency recognized by the Board and complete a corresponding application.
The national certification organizations for Alabama APNs recognized by the Board include:
- Certified Nurse Practitioners
- Certified Nurse Midwives
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in Alabama must renew their RN license between September 1 and December 31 of all even-numbered years. The two-year APN renewal is due at the same time. Additional continuing education requirements must also be met at that time.
Advanced Practice and Non-Clinical Nursing Careers in Alabama
RNs in Alabama who possess MSNs often choose to focus their careers in nursing administration, nursing education, and nursing informatics, just to name a few.
Some of the largest medical institutions in Alabama where RNs with MSNs may find abundant opportunities in education, clinical administration, and informatics include:
- University of Alabama Hospital, Birmingham
- Huntsville Hospital, Huntsville
- Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, Mobile
- Brookwood Medical Center, Birmingham
- Trinity Medical Center, Birmingham
- USA Medical Center, Mobile
Just a few of the recently posted jobs for MSN-educated RNs in Alabama include (March 2015):
- Nurse practitioner, medical assessments: Mobile
- Psychiatric nurse practitioner: Gadsden
- Psychiatric nurse practitioner: Birmingham
- Primary care nurse practitioner: Mobile
- Nurse practitioner, Auburn
- Assistant/associate professor: Tuscaloosa