How to Pick the Right Nursing Degree Program near Decatur Alabama
Selecting the right nursing school near Decatur AL may seem like a complex project, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least expensive school or the one that is local to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are various key additional factors to explore before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
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Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Decatur AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the responsibilities 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 higher degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 common illnesses or injuries.
There are several degree options offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six 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 commonly a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed 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 employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a two 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.
Once a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Classes
Enrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more popular way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for some Decatur AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily 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. And so if your work and household obligations have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask RN Training Programs
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Decatur AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up 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. In addition to helping confirm that you receive a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Decatur AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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 performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative 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 practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact 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 confirm 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 attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Decatur Nursing Program
Deciding on the ideal nursing college is potentially the most critical phase to starting a new career in the medical care field. There are various factors that you must consider when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed within this content, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding 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 ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Decatur Alabama.