University of Mobile starts associate degree in nursing

The program aims to reduce nursing shortages

The University of Mobile campus.

The University of Mobile School of Nursing has established an associate degree in nursing aimed at reducing the current nursing shortage by preparing students to enter the workforce quickly.

The two-year degree will begin in August, pending final approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Mobile President Lonnie Burnett said the school was responding to requests by Mobile-area healthcare facilities to help address a sharp increase in demand for registered nurses.

Dr. Sarah Barnes-Witherspoon, dean of the School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions, said the demand for registered nurses will continue to be an issue in the future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists registered nurses among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2030.

“The average age for an RN is 50, and 47% of nurses are older than that average,” said Barnes-Witherspoon, referring to a U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration 2018 national survey.

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Barnes-Witherspoon said the associate degree in nursing can be a first step for students who want to quickly enter the workforce and begin earning a paycheck, then continue their education towards a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Students in the program will gain hands-on experience in UM’s Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice, which features labs and high-fidelity patient simulators to mirror scenarios students will experience in their nursing careers. The UM School of Nursing has agreements with more than 20 health care facilities that offer students clinical experiences.  

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