How to Enroll In the Right Nursing Degree Program Online in Decatur Alabama
Finding the right nursing college near Decatur AL may seem like a complicated endeavor, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly program or the one that is nearest to your residence is most likely not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional factors to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at what the job of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree options that are available.
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RN Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as Decatur AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering 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 responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, 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 Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option available to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Decatur AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might 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 typically a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Programs
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more in demand way to obtain instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend college for some Decatur AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy 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 Decatur AL or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably 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 selection, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Decatur AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ 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. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Decatur AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their opinions are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN colleges 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 dissatisfied 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 favorable reputation within the Decatur AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Best Decatur Nursing Degree Program
Choosing the ideal nursing program is perhaps the most important first step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are many variables that you must think about when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have highlighted within this content, it is essential that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Decatur Alabama.