How to Enroll In the Best Nursing College near Dothan Alabama
Choosing the best nursing college near Dothan AL may feel like a challenging endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your house is no doubt not the best way to select a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional factors to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical system, as well as the nursing degree options that are available.
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RN Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as Dothan AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Dothan AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth 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 previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish 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 two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Schools
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more in demand way to obtain training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend school for some Dothan AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Dothan AL or online, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the field.
- 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. In addition to helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Dothan 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 performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call 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 schools 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Dothan AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Dothan AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Right Dothan Nursing School
Selecting the ideal nursing program is arguably the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are many factors that you should consider when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have stressed in this content, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list 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 RN in Dothan Alabama.