How to Select the Best Nursing Program Online in Birmingham Alabama
Searching for the right nursing college near Birmingham AL may feel like a complex project, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your home is no doubt not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are various important additional things to investigate 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 health system, along with the nursing degree choices that are available.
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RN Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Birmingham AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly 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 multiple degrees offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Birmingham AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want 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 achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Schools
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more in demand way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Birmingham AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Schools
Once you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Birmingham AL or online, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt 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 choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other schools.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together 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 provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call 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 programs 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Birmingham AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Best Birmingham Nursing Program
Selecting the ideal nursing college is perhaps the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are numerous aspects that you should take into account when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have stressed in this content, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Birmingham Alabama.