How to Enroll In the Right Nursing Training Program near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Locating the right nursing program near Tuscaloosa AL may feel like a complex undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least costly program or the one that is local to your residence is probably not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are many essential additional things to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first go over what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree options that are offered.
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RN Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to assist 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 as well as where they work. A few of the duties 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
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex 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 provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
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 earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain 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 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire 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 normally a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has attained 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. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Programs
Enrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend school for many Tuscaloosa AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more 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. And so if your job and family commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask RN Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Tuscaloosa AL or on the web, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other schools.
- 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. Besides helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Tuscaloosa AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ 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 specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Tuscaloosa 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 programs 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 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 Tuscaloosa AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Nursing Program
Picking the right nursing degree program is probably the most crucial first step to starting a new career in the medical care field. There are various factors that you must consider when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have stressed within this content, it is essential that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Tuscaloosa Alabama.