How to Pick the Right Nursing Program near Alabaster Alabama
Finding the right nursing program near Alabaster AL may feel like a difficult undertaking, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many future students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least costly college or the one that is closest to your house is most likely not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are many key additional aspects to investigate before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first go over what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, along with the nursing degree options that are offered.
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RN Job Duties
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Alabaster AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are several degree options to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Alabaster AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the job market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Courses
Attending nursing schools online is growing into a more popular way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some Alabaster AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask RN Programs
Once you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Alabaster AL or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the field.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided in Alabaster AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Alabaster AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN colleges you are considering what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Alabaster AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Alabaster AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Alabaster Nursing Degree Program
Picking the right nursing school is potentially the most critical phase to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many variables that you need to consider when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have pointed out in this article, it is critical that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Alabaster Alabama.