How to Enroll In the Right Nursing College Online in Alabaster Alabama
Locating the best nursing program near Alabaster AL may feel like a challenging undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and determine the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least costly program or the one that is closest to your home is no doubt not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are various key additional aspects to check out before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
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RN Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Alabaster AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Offered
There are multiple degrees offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Alabaster AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical answer to finding the time to attend school for some Alabaster AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, 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 household responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask RN Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Alabaster AL or online, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other programs.
- 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 organization. In addition to helping confirm that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an outstanding education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Alabaster AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgments are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools you are looking at 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the Alabaster AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Alabaster AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Select the Best Alabaster Nursing Program
Enrolling in the right nursing school is probably the most important first step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of aspects that you should consider when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have stressed in this content, it is important that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Alabaster Alabama.