How to Enroll In the Best Nursing School Online in Tuscaloosa Alabama
Selecting the right nursing school near Tuscaloosa AL may feel like a difficult undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least costly college or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are several key additional things to explore before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss what the job of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
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Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent 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
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are several degree options offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered 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 facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ 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 in depth training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 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 two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Schools
Attending nursing programs online is emerging as a more favored way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend school for some Tuscaloosa AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. 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 household obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Tuscaloosa AL or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping ensure that you get a premium 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 prerequisites for registered nurses vary 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 specific 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 excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- 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. In addition, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check 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 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 verify 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 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 specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Nursing Degree Program
Deciding on the ideal nursing college is arguably the most critical step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous variables that you need to think about when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list 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.