How to Find the Best RN School near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Locating the right nursing school near Tuscaloosa AL may seem like a difficult endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least costly program or the one that is nearest to your home is probably not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of important additional considerations to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
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RN Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level 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 common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Offered
There are several degree options offered to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short 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 offered by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as 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) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 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 generally a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Classes
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more popular way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend classes 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 minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous 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 household responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask RN Training Programs
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Tuscaloosa AL or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely 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 selection measures up to the other schools.
- 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. Aside from helping make sure that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Tuscaloosa 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 programs 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Tuscaloosa AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Pick the Best Tuscaloosa Nursing School
Deciding on the right nursing program is probably the most important step to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are many factors that you should think about when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out in this article, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Tuscaloosa Alabama.