How to Select the Best RN Degree Program Online in Decatur Alabama
Finding the right nursing program near Decatur AL may feel like a formidable undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your home is no doubt not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are several essential additional aspects to look into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at what the role of a registered nurse is in our health system, along with the nursing degree options that are offered.
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Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Decatur AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing 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 example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common 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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Decatur AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has received 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 vary from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Programs
Enrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more popular way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend college for many Decatur AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental 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 such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask RN Training Programs
Once you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Decatur AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other schools.
- 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 organization. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently 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) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional 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 internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, get in touch 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 opinions are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools 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 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Decatur AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. 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. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Decatur Nursing Degree Program
Picking the right nursing school is probably the most crucial first step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are many aspects that you must think about when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this content, it is critical that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Decatur Alabama.