How to Select the Best Nursing Training Program Online in Decatur Alabama
Selecting the best nursing program near Decatur AL may feel like a complicated endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is local to your house is no doubt not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional considerations to check out before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first cover what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
It Takes Just a Minute to Start Your Nursing Career in Alabama!
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Decatur AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty 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 specialization along with where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering 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 more advanced degree may have more complex 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 administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options 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 just 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Decatur AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their past 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 job market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is typically a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Classes
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more favored way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend classes for many Decatur AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more 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. So if your work and household responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask RN Training Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing program to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Decatur AL or online, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping verify that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Decatur AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many 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 exceptional education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. 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 Decatur 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 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Decatur AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get 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 prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Decatur Nursing Program
Enrolling in the right nursing college is probably the most important first step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are a number of aspects that you must take into account when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed within this content, it is critical that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to select 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 Decatur Alabama.