How to Choose the Best Nursing School Online in Vestavia Hills Alabama
Selecting the best nursing program near Vestavia Hills AL may feel like a challenging undertaking, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of key additional considerations to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review what the role of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
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Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and typically 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 multiple degrees available 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 as little as 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 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 utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive 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 achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Classes
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more favored way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Vestavia Hills AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous 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 limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Training Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Vestavia Hills AL or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the other schools.
- 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 recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided in Vestavia Hills 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified 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 delivers an exceptional education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. 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 contact some Vestavia Hills 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 colleges you are considering 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 displeased 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 good reputation within the Vestavia Hills AL healthcare 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 specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Vestavia Hills Nursing Program
Deciding on the ideal nursing college is potentially the most critical first step to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of factors that you should think about when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this post, it is critical that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Vestavia Hills Alabama.