By Lucy Frost-Helms
Plans for the University of Montevallo’s nursing program, which initially began in spring 2021, have continued to develop over this summer. Helming this development is Courtney Bentley, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at UM.
Having already completed the Step I application of the Alabama Board of Nursing and requirements for the approval of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the nursing program is hopeful to commence operations in fall 2024.
Until then, the in-progress nursing program still requires an application for Step II of the Alabama Board of Nursing as well as accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Submitting Step II of the Alabama Board of Nursing new program application requires that plans for operations of the program have been reviewed and that there are motions of support in place for faculty and students.
The process of receiving these two approvals will begin after a dean for the program is hired. Two fulltime nursing educators will also be hired upon final approval of the program.
UM’s nursing program will be housed in Myrick Hall, which has already undergone renovations to accommodate the new nursing major. Dr. Bentley says, “Phase I renovations of Myrick Hall, including the Simulation and Skills Lab, were completed in August 2023. Phase II will be completed by July 2024.”
Any UM student will be able to declare a nursing major once accepted to UM, however, certain requirements must be met in order to advance into the professional sector of the program, which will begin in a student’s junior year.
These requirements are based off of the Alabama Board of Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, but will be revised by the dean of the nursing program once one is hired. Once evaluated, the requirements for admission into the professional nursing program will be available to UM students.
The professional portion of the nursing degree, beginning in a nursing major’s junior year, will be able to accommodate 20 students and include lectures, a skills lab and clinical partnerships with hospitals such as Shelby Baptist Hospital. As more faculty are hired and enough time has passed to gauge interest in the degree, Bentley expects that the seat number will, most likely, expand.
Although there are several nursing programs available to attend in Alabama, Bentley is concentrating on a unique approach for the program, one that is empathetic with the after- effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Compassion fatigue, which is the physical, emotional, and psychological impact of helping others, was heightened during the pandemic and is still ongoing. According to Bentley, it has partly led to a shortage of nurses and nursing programs in Alabama.
As a public liberal arts college, UM aims to engrain the liberal arts philosophy into the nursing program’s curriculum, one that will also acknowledge compassion fatigue. Bentley says, “UM seeks to offer a nursing program grounded in a liberal education thereby engendering an ethic of care predicated on multidisciplinary and integrated learning. Such an ethic of care presents new opportunities to mitigate compassion fatigue within the profession.”
Lucy Frost-Helms is the copy editor of The Alabamian. She’s majoring in social science and minoring in philosophy. She enjoys being a goober, eating chicken salad for breakfast, watching “National Treasure” and telling you that she will “definitely pay you back for that.” Lucy has the worst memory of all time and will forget major, important details of stories you tell her.