UAB’s School of Nursing still is accepting applications for the first semester of its new Accelerated Master’s Entry to Nursing Pathway (AMNP) for students earning second degrees.

Pamela Autrey (left), Norman Keltner (center) and Cecilia Ohman say the new AMNP program for students earning second degrees will extend the SoN tradition of graduating the best and brightest into the health-care field.

The program, which begins May 7, is funded in part from a $1 million strategic investment in the School of Nursing by the UAB Health System. It is an intensive 27-month program designed to introduce 45 new nurses annually into the work force, says Norman Keltner, Ed.D., program coordinator.

The joint venture with UAB Hospital will enable the students to fulfill the post-graduate, registered nurse residency requirements. Pre-licensure graduates of the program also will have the opportunity to work at the hospital while completing the requirements for the master’s degree.

“The School of Nursing is excited to be partnering with the UAB Health System to respond to the growing nurse shortage,” Keltner says. “Admission to the School of Nursing is a very competitive process, thus we tend to get outstanding students. The AMNP program will extend that tradition of bringing in and graduating the best and brightest into the health-care field at UAB Hospital and beyond.”

Nurses are the front line for patient needs, and projections are there will be an even greater need for nurses in the coming years. More than 1.2 million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of that number, federal analysts project more than 703,000 of those jobs will be newly created RN positions that will account for 40 percent of all new jobs in the health-care sector.

Attracting students
The first class of nurses that graduate from the AMNP program in 2010 will be in addition to almost 300 students graduating annually through the bachelor and graduate programs offered by UAB.

One of the reasons the School of Nursing pursued the program was due to the number of college graduates enrolling in the BSN traditional program, says Pamela Autrey, Ph.D., the school’s assistant dean for student affairs. Autrey says the program is attracting returning students in their mid to late 20s and early to mid 30s, who are motivated to make a career change, and recent college graduates who want to bridge their current degree to the nursing profession.

“Almost one-third of the students in our incoming nursing classes were second degree-seeking students,” Autrey says. “With the AMNP program we are able to move the majority of these students from the traditional four-year setting and get them on the fast track to a nursing career with a master’s degree in hand. This is a big plus for both our bachelor’s program and these students.”

Cecilia Ohman, student nurse recruiter for the program, says the first class includes students with a variety of backgrounds. Exercise science majors, biology majors, chemistry majors and a person with a doctorate in education are among the group.

“I’ve had people seek us out even before we advertised the program asking if this program is real,” Ohman says.

“The program has so many advantages, including having the residency built into the program. It’s a demanding two-year program, but it’s one that is drawing an enormous amount of interest.”

Need for CNLs
Graduates of the program are considered clinical nurse leaders (CNL). They will receive the same number of clinical hours an undergraduate nurse would receive, with additional clinical hours linked to masters’ coursework. But their responsibilities are somewhat different from a traditional registered nurse in the hospital setting. The program is unique in that it is designed collaboratively with the UAB Hospital and the Health System.

The CNL designs, implements and evaluates patient care by coordinating, delegating and supervising the care provided by the health-care team, including licensed nurses, technicians, and other health professionals. The CNL concept was developed by the American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) to augment leadership at the bedside.

The AACN cites the 44,000 to 98,000 deaths annually from medical errors and the $17 to $29 billion spent annually on preventable medical errors as proof that more leadership is needed.

“We’re hoping by the end of this master’s program the students will have a better picture of the global issues in nursing care and be able to attack those issues head on as they enter the health-care workforce,” Keltner says.

“Health care is consuming an awful lot of resources in this country. It’s projected we will spend $4 trillion a year in health care in just six years. Hopefully by adding more leaders at the bedside we can improve these deficiencies.”