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How to Find the Right RN School near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham Alabama neonatal nurse with newborn babySearching for the right nursing college near Birmingham AL may feel like a difficult undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive college or the one that is local to your residence is most likely not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are various crucial additional considerations to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first go over what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, together with the nursing degree options that are available.

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Registered Nurse Job Functions

Birmingham Alabama Nurse with senior female patient

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Birmingham AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Birmingham AL area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 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 attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
  • Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is usually a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Schools

Birmingham Alabama RN setting up IV drip during surgical procedureAttending nursing schools online is growing into a more preferred way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some Birmingham AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Programs

Once you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Birmingham AL or on the web, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other schools.

  • 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Birmingham AL for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Birmingham 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 considering what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were unhappy 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 good reputation within the Birmingham AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts 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 setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

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Pick the Right Birmingham Nursing Degree Program

Picking the ideal nursing school is arguably the most critical first step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are numerous factors that you must take into account when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical 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 appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Birmingham Alabama.



 

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