How to Select the Best RN Degree Program near Montgomery Alabama
Searching for the right nursing college near Montgomery AL may feel like a formidable project, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your house is no doubt not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are various essential additional factors to investigate before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
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Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Montgomery AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating 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 advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Montgomery AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies 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 later achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four 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 may desire 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 receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate 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) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more in demand way to obtain training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend school for some Montgomery AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask RN Colleges
Once you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Montgomery AL or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Montgomery 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Montgomery 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 colleges 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 superb reputation within the Montgomery AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Pick the Best Montgomery Nursing Degree Program
Deciding on the right nursing program is perhaps the most crucial phase to starting a new career in the medical care field. There are various variables that you need to take into account when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have stressed within this post, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist 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 ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Montgomery Alabama.