How to Find the Best Nursing School near Dothan Alabama
Finding the best nursing college near Dothan AL may feel like a formidable endeavor, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are various key additional considerations to investigate before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
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RN Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Dothan AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting 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 responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically 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.
Nursing Degree Options
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 brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Dothan AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a four 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 want 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 normally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend college for many Dothan AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. 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 work and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have selected which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Dothan AL or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other programs.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Dothan 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Dothan 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 unhappy 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 superb reputation within the Dothan AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Dothan AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Pick the Best Dothan Nursing School
Choosing the ideal nursing degree program is probably the most important phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are many aspects that you need to think about when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have highlighted within this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Dothan Alabama.