How to Select the Best RN College Online in Gadsden Alabama
Searching for the right nursing program near Gadsden AL may feel like a challenging undertaking, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are many key additional considerations to explore before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
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Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as Gadsden AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced 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 routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option 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 as little as two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Gadsden AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their prior 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 employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is typically a 2 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 obtained 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. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend college for many Gadsden AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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. So if your job and family commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask RN Training Programs
Once you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Gadsden AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout 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 earlier mentioned, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are probably 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 final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares 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 organization. Aside from helping make sure that you get a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Gadsden AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified 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 outstanding education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine 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 assessments 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 dissatisfied 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 favorable reputation within the Gadsden AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with Gadsden AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Select the Best Gadsden Nursing Program
Enrolling in the ideal nursing school is perhaps the most important first step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are numerous factors that you should think about when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have highlighted within this post, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Gadsden Alabama.