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How to Pick the Right RN Degree Program Online in Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama neonatal RN with babySearching for the right nursing program near Decatur AL may feel like a formidable undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and measure the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your house is most likely not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are several crucial additional aspects to explore before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.

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Registered Nurse Job Functions

Decatur Alabama RN with senior woman resident

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Decatur AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced 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 routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Offered

There is more than one degree option offered to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can receive 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 brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered 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 job in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 usually a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When 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. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Programs

Decatur Alabama Nurse setting up IV drip prior to surgical procedureAttending nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend classes for many Decatur AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many 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 obligations have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask RN Programs

Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Decatur AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt 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 to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school and the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping verify that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Decatur AL for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses are different 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. Certain states require a specified 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 excellent education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments 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 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 verify that the school has a superb 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 ideal 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 too. Check if the schools have associations with Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

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Enroll in the Best Decatur Nursing Program

Deciding on the ideal nursing degree program is probably the most important first step to starting a new career in the healthcare field. There are various factors that you need to consider when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this content, it is essential that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using 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 appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Decatur Alabama.



 

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