How to Select the Right Nursing Degree Program Online in Decatur Alabama
Searching for the right nursing program near Decatur AL may seem like a complicated undertaking, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your home is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional things to look into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, together with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
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RN Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care 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 basic 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 area of expertise in addition to where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Taking care of 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 generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
There are several degree options available to become a registered nurse. And in order 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 advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Decatur AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ 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 usually a 4 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 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 commonly a two year program after achieving 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 obtained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more in demand way to obtain instruction and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified number 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 practical answer to finding the free time to attend classes for many Decatur AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have selected which nursing program to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Decatur AL or on the web, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other programs.
- 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 organization. Aside from helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Decatur AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ 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. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out 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 judgments 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Decatur AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Select the Best Decatur Nursing Program
Choosing the ideal nursing school is perhaps the most crucial first step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are numerous factors that you must consider when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce 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 licensed RN in Decatur Alabama.