How to Choose the Right RN College near Decatur Alabama
Selecting the best nursing college near Decatur AL may feel like a difficult project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your home is most likely not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many key additional aspects to investigate before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
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Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely Decatur AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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 Degree Options
There are multiple degrees to choose from 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 earn 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 summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Decatur AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior 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 job market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a 2 year program after receiving 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 earned 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. Other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Classes
Attending nursing programs online is becoming a more preferred way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend school for many Decatur AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, 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. So if your job and household responsibilities 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 active schedule.
Questions to Ask RN Degree Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Decatur AL or online, you can use the following guidelines to begin 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 lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the field.
- 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. Aside from helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Decatur 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, check with 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 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also essential 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 attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get 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 mandates for licensing also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Decatur Nursing School
Picking the ideal nursing degree program is arguably the most important phase to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are a number of factors that you should think about when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have pointed out in this post, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to pick 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 licensed RN in Decatur Alabama.