How to Select the Best Nursing School near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Choosing the best nursing program near Tuscaloosa AL may feel like a formidable project, especially if you don't know 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 proper 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 ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your home is no doubt not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are a number of key additional things to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at what the function of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
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RN Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to aid 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 in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.
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 acquire a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Tuscaloosa AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might 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 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once 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. Further requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Schools
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Tuscaloosa AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask RN Colleges
Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Tuscaloosa AL or on the web, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many 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 manageable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are probably 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 before making your ultimate decision, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping confirm that you get an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Tuscaloosa AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact 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 schools you are looking at 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Tuscaloosa AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Nursing Degree Program
Picking the ideal nursing program is arguably the most important phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are various aspects that you need to consider when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have highlighted within this article, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Tuscaloosa Alabama.