How to Find the Right RN Program Online in Gadsden Alabama
Choosing the best nursing program near Gadsden AL may feel like a challenging endeavor, especially if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house is no doubt not the best way to select a nursing program. There are many important additional considerations to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree choices that are available.
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Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Gadsden AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to help doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly 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 Available
There is more than one degree option available 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 as little as two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Gadsden AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 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 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 typically a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has earned 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. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Classes
Attending nursing schools online is growing into a more favored way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend classes for many Gadsden AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplementary 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 like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and family commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Gadsden AL or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential 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 and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your pick compares 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping make sure that you get a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Gadsden AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites 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. Certain 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 enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Gadsden 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 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 displeased 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 superb reputation within the Gadsden AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Gadsden AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Right Gadsden Nursing Program
Deciding on the ideal nursing college is arguably the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of aspects that you need to think about when deciding on a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this article, it is critical that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Gadsden Alabama.