How to Find the Best Nursing College Online in Hoover Alabama
Finding the right nursing program near Hoover AL may seem like a formidable project, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and measure the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many future students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive program or the one that is local to your residence is most likely not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are various important additional considerations to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first go over what the role of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
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Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Hoover AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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 Degree Options
There are multiple degrees 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 obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Hoover AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It readies 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 ultimately achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally 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 progress 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 attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more in demand way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some Hoover AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, 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. So if your job and family obligations have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Training Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Hoover AL or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the other programs.
- 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 agency. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Hoover 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Hoover 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Hoover AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Hoover AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Select the Right Hoover Nursing Program
Picking the right nursing degree program is perhaps the most critical first step to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are many variables that you must take into account when deciding on a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out within this post, it is important that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Hoover Alabama.