Any experience/opinion with University of South Alabama MSN?

  1. Hello all. I am researching MSN programs. I really want to attend one of the universities in my area but my work schedule and their class schedule just don't work out...So I am looking into online programs. I really want a program associated with an established "bricks and mortar" school and have been trying to gather info on the University of South Alabama and Indiana State University. So far, Alabama is looking better to me.

    Does anyone have any experience at/with U of S. Alabama, such as ease of communication, arranging clinical site, difficulty level of coursework??

    Also, when looking at a schools accredidation...I have always only heard of looking for NLN accredidation. Is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) comparable and acceptable?

    Thanks for reading.
  2. Visit amberfnp profile page

    About amberfnp

    Joined: Sep '07; Posts: 200; Likes: 61
    Specialty: 10 year(s) of experience in Plastic Surgery, ER


  3. by   sirI

    To answer your question if the CCNE is acceptable. Yes, it is. When sitting for your specialty certification upon completion of your NP program, one of the requirements will be graduation from an NP program accredited by CCNE or NLN.

    I have experience with students in the USA program. They all have seemed to be very satisfied with the program thus far. I would recommend the program and do.

    Good luck with your research.
  4. by   JALEXSHOE
    I recommend it. I am attending it.

    But I will tell you it is a self-starter kind of program. Not a lot of hand holding... But if you are a self-motivated and organized individual with good study habits, I would think you would do quite fine...
  5. by   amberfnp
    Thank so much for your reply. I am really ready to get started wherever I may choose to go. So far, it seems USA is a good option. Just a little bummed to see that I missed the Sept 1 deadline for spring admission. I really wanted to attend one of the schools in my locale but I have to work full time and I can't keep the job I have now (been here 11 years) and keep with their schedule.

    I was pleased with the fairly quick reply I received when I emailed for info. There are still a couple of schools I have not heard back from yet.

    Anyways, I have seen on the website the curriculum plans. Do you know if you can alter them at all? For example, if it recommends 3 classes but you felt you could only do 2, would they allow that?

    Do you ever have to go the campus?

    What are the tests and assignments like? Multiple choice? A lot of papers? Do tests have to be in a proctored location?

    Also, how do you interact with the class/instructor? Are instructors generally available and quick to respond if you have questions or concerns? I have only had experience with online programs with my BSN, which wasn't entirely online. We did a lot over "Blackboard", email, us mail, and then we met one weekend a month with the entire class and the instructors. And we only really had one clinical rotation which was for management. I only lived 1 hour away from the school so when in dire need, I could always just go there!

    Have you had any trouble lining up clinical sites?

    Sorry for so many questions. I am just a little nervous about a totally distance program. I do feel that I can be motivated to do the work, and once I get acclimated to their style and understand how things work, I can be independent.

    Thanks so much for your time and help!
    Have a great day!
  6. by   JALEXSHOE
    anyways, i have seen on the website the curriculum plans. do you know if you can alter them at all? for example, if it recommends 3 classes but you felt you could only do 2, would they allow that?

    they are pretty linear. i am told that it is possible to take less, but not more, or deviate from the plan set for you. so, it may take you longer as some classes are not available, some semesters. does that make sense?

    do you ever have to go the campus?

    yes, once you are in your clinical portion, the second year, you do have to go for approximately a week at the beginning of those semesters. it is on the web site, you can look at the individual requirements for each specialty.

    what are the tests and assignments like? multiple choice? a lot of papers? do tests have to be in a proctored location?

    i am only in the second semester of six, so understand my view is limited. the tests i have been exposed to are timed and multiple choice. some of them have very specific sitting times, and others are little more broad. for instance, one hour on a certain date in the morning or the evening or over a period of 48 hours. it varies. tests are at home. they are very detailed and you must know the information to be able to process the answer, they are not pure memorization, but more application. you only have 60 minutes to complete the ones i am in now and there are 50 questions, they are open book, but there is no way with a minute a question that this helps for more than a few questions. they are not proctored. i am studying harder than i ever had done before, but it is doable.

    there are papers, depending on the class, and they are required to be in apa form. some classes have more than others.

    also, how do you interact with the class/instructor? are instructors generally available and quick to respond if you have questions or concerns? i have only had experience with online programs with my bsn, which wasn't entirely online. we did a lot over "blackboard", email, us mail, and then we met one weekend a month with the entire class and the instructors. and we only really had one clinical rotation which was for management. i only lived 1 hour away from the school so when in dire need, i could always just go there!

    the class is awesome. all adults, and most are very supportive and helpful. i have had 3 instructors, 2 which i would give accolades, one which i have to drink a lot of lemonade to keep from noticing the lemons for. but this is true, anywhere you go. this is a self-directed program. the learning is on you! there is not a lot of hand holding, you must be very organized and put together to do well in my opinion.

    have you had any trouble lining up clinical sites?me, no, they have a list of approved ones (again on their web site). and i am fortunate in that i have lots of contacts, as i have been a nurse for a very long time. so, it is not an issue for me. if you do not have this, then i would recommend you send out some feelers before committing to an online program.

    i would recommend you go where you feel most comfortable. i do not know that anything worth having ever comes easy. i think that all programs will have their unique challenges, detractions, and rewards.

    you should know going into this that it is going to be a lot of work no matter where you go. i chose the online education, because i work full time, have 4 kids, and i can read something, retain it, process it, and have little need for someone else to explain it to me. not everyone is like this. don't make them bad, just makes them different. shop the education like you shop for clothes. it can look good on a hanger, but try it on. go for what fits.

    good luck!


  7. by   amberfnp
    Thanks so much. You have answered several of my questions. I have replied to an email from X at USA asking about clinical sites in my locality as I did see any on the list. If you don't mind my asking, which program are you in? I think I want to go into teaching, so my first thought was to do a nurse educator program, which seems to me would work best with my schedule. However, after much consideration, I think an NP program would offer more opportunities and would certainly give me more clinical knowledge for teaching.
    Last edit by sirI on Sep 18, '07 : Reason: please do not post names of instructors, directors, advisors, etc.
  8. by   JALEXSHOE
    I am in the FNP program.

    If you look on the web site, and click on all the links, you will find the information. There is a lot of it there, you just have to look for it.

  9. by   amberfnp
    Thanks. I looked again and did see one thats about 30 mintues from my home, Portsmouth Naval Medical Center.

    This is what I found about other sites and coming to campus...have not seen anything more detailed than this yet...

    "The FNP Program requires 2 to 3 orientation days on-campus. Approval of exam sites is at the discretion of the course coordinator. Students may be required to return to campus at the end of fall, spring, and summer semesters for a final exam and orientation to the next semester"

    From this I assume (and we all know what assuming can lead to)...
    That perhaps I can use clinical sites not listed so long as they approve

    ..and that there are times I may need to physically go to campus. I am looking for info as to how often I would need to go and for how long...with my FT and PT jobs, a school age child, and a husband in the fire department working 24 hours shifts every other day...sometimes scheduling becomes a job in and of itself!

    Something else I found with other schools is that the classroom part of the program was essentially part-time, taking 1 class at a time if you want, then when it comes to clinicals, it could be as much as 4-5 days a week.

    Looking at one of the FNP Part-time schedules, it appears that clinicals start in the 4th semester and go through the 8th semester. That at least gives me time to prepare with my job if needed.

    Is registering online and finding the books and materials you need a user friendly process?

    I know...I am killing you with questions. I see that there are some faculty names on the FNP page. Perhaps I'll go on to contact one of them.

    Many thanks again!
  10. by   JALEXSHOE
    The bookstore is very friendly and helpful.

    As far as specifics with attendance requirements, I would state it is better coming from the horse's mouth. I don't want to misinform you.

    I know there are other online programs, Frontier has one ( and Indiana State I think has the another. I have heard that the Indiana one requires no on site visits. I know only rumors. I think there is information on that on this site. Just do a search or scroll down and read some, I am sure you will find it.

    If you are going to go online, research all of them with your specific needs in mind. Make a list, checking off your needs, then add one with your wants. You must first meet all your needs, then you can weigh the ones with wants, and come up with your best plan of action.

    As far as requesting clinical sites, it is my understanding that one can submit them for approval. I have not done so yet, so I cannot advise you to this process.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that some of the schools have an ARNP preceptor requirement for a portion of it. USA does not, to my knowledge. Some do not allow PA's. Some will only allow 20 percent to be performed by MD's. Some of are faster completion times than others. Some schools have a GRE requirement. There are many considerations.

    Again, good luck.
  11. by   amberfnp
    Hi again. I have been in contact with one of the professors and one of the graduate secretaries at USA. Things are coming together! This school seems like it just might be the right choice. While I do have interest in some school closer to home, their graduate tuition is outrageous! Upwards of $600-800/credit hour! Who can afford that?

    Anyways, it seems that I had missed the 9/1 application deadline for spring being as how I did not even know about this school until 1 week ago. But, the secretary stated if I can get an application in by the end of the month, I could still be considered for spring as they don't start looking at app's until October. I just found that out today. The only hold up I anticipate is getting official transcripts done in time.

    The instructor that I spoke did state there was the 3 day orientation at the start of the program. In addition, she states they can require students come twice per semester but she has not had to do that as of yet. I sure that it stays that way as it is a 14 hour drive from where I am!

    Thanks again for your help, Amber
    Last edit by sirI on Sep 22, '07 : Reason: PLEASE DO NOT POST NAMES OF INSTRUCTORS, DIRECTORS, COORDINATORS, etc.
  12. by   amberfnp

    Hi again. I now have my application forms complete and ready to be mailed. I spoke with the secretary yesterday, and as I expected the only hold up for the application to be "complete" will be the transcripts. Of course I am at the mercy of the 4 schools to have those sent. For my diploma school, their records are on microfiche and they may not get to them until next week. If it is not complete, I understand that applications roll over to the next semester. Is this what "rolling admission" means?

    You mentioned in a previous reply that you are doing the 6 semester program, but were in the 2nd semester. Did you start in the spring or summer? How are you finding the workload of the courses? Have you heard from anyone ahead of you how the latter part of the program is? I ask because I am having 2nd thoughts of a spring start after reviewing the different curriculum plans, over and over. I wonder if a summer start (over 8 semesters) versus spring (over 6 semsters) might be the better road to take since I will need to keep as close to FT hours at work as possible, then add in family stuff. I am so excited to start ASAP but I don't want to get in over my head.

    Once again, thanks so much for the information you have provided. You have been a great help.
  13. by   JALEXSHOE
    It was a typing error, I have 8 semesters. I believe there is an entry that is 6, can't remember which.

    I would go for the lightest course load myself. Like I said before, this is work.

    Good luck to you!
  14. by   BlessedOne83
    Jalexshoe~ I willbe starting the FNP this Spring and I read your long post answering questions for another person and I just wanted to know if you had any words oa wisdom especially on the instructors, I'll take initials if you don't feel comfortable giving names or feel free to send me a pm. Thanks for your time.

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