How to Pick the Best Nursing School near Gadsden Alabama
Searching for the right nursing college near Gadsden AL may seem like a difficult endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is local to your residence is most likely not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are many crucial additional considerations to investigate before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree options that are offered.
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Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Gadsden AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to aid doctors in the treatment 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. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common 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 earn a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Gadsden AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed 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 employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Courses
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more in demand way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain 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 performed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend college for some Gadsden AL students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of 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 household obligations have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask RN Colleges
Once you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Gadsden AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within 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 earlier mentioned, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other schools.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping confirm that you get a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Gadsden 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Gadsden AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied 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 favorable reputation within the Gadsden AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Gadsden AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Select the Best Gadsden Nursing Degree Program
Choosing the right nursing college is arguably the most important first step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various aspects that you must take into account when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have stressed within this post, it is essential that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing 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 final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Gadsden Alabama.