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Nursing: Quality Care

Nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession with more than 4 million registered nurses practicing nationwide.

The Ira D. Pruitt Division of Nursing at The University of West Alabama was established in 1974 as an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree program. Two years later, it began awarding ASN degrees to program graduates who were prepared to begin careers as a registered nurse (RN). Here’s everything you need to know about UWA’s Division of Nursing!

The ASN graduate employment rate at UWA consistently exceeds 90%.

Successful Career-Building Skills

Dr. Mary Hanks at UWA shared, “We want our graduates to exhibit competence in cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains that will position them to deliver safe, effective, and quality care to their patients.

  1. A nurse must be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to care for patients with ever-changing healthcare needs.
  2. Nursing students must possess critical thinking and clinical judgment skills to use at the bedside.
  3. Through simulation and clinical experience, the Division of Nursing prepares the student nurse for real-world experiences.
  4. The practice of nursing is guided by a code of ethics, including patient advocacy and self-determination, and our students graduate with an appreciation for these ethical concepts.”

How to Excel in the Nursing Program

When asked how to excel in the program, Dr. Hanks stated, “When I speak to young people interested in the health professions, I stress the importance of both science courses and reading comprehension. The reading comprehension aspect is imperative because of the assessment system (i.e. charts, medical records, etc.) that exists in nursing. It will also help to be prepared with an idea of how the human body is supposed to function so they can understand the pathophysiology we discuss and the nursing actions we take to promote, improve, or rehabilitate health.”

The Next Steps to Take

Simply stated, the pipeline to becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, nurse anesthetist, etc., begins with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Looking to further your nursing degree? In its RN-to-BSN program, UWA engages students who are already registered nurses. The RN-to-BSN provides the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to manage a group of patients, manage a community as a client group, or lead a team of colleagues in the healthcare field. These courses are specifically designed to help registered nurses build their research and management skills to propel the bedside nurse to charge nurse or team leader, and the charge nurse to nurse manager roles.

Dr. Hanks encourages students to “check out the online RN-to-BSN degree program! Anyone who is interested in our program should visit the UWA website at and search for the RN-to-BSN program.”

Project EARN Scholarships

The University of West Alabama has been awarded a $2.4 million grant from Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to provide nursing student scholarships over the next five years. Project EARN (EducatingAlabama Rural Nurses) will provide scholarships for up to 35 qualifying students in the Ira D. Pruitt Division of Nursing each semester, with $4,000 awarded up to four semesters. Currently, these scholarships are only available to students when they enter the Associate of Science in Nursing degree program.


Contributed by: Mary Hanks, EdD, MSN, CNL, CNE Chairperson/Associate Professor for Ira D. Pruitt Division of Nursing, University of West Alabama, Livingston, AL 35470205-652-3668,

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