How to Pick the Right RN School near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Finding the right nursing school near Vestavia Hills AL may seem like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence is no doubt not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are many important additional things to look into before you determine where to attend 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, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
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RN Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, including Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the care 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 few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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 are several degree options to choose from 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 achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Vestavia Hills AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior 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 normally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Colleges
Attending nursing programs online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive 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 amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend college for many Vestavia Hills AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask RN Training Programs
Once you have selected which nursing program to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Vestavia Hills AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are a large number of 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 workable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other programs.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Vestavia Hills AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. 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 Vestavia Hills 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 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Vestavia Hills AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Pick the Best Vestavia Hills Nursing School
Enrolling in the right nursing school is arguably the most important first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many factors that you should think about when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have highlighted within this post, it is important that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Vestavia Hills Alabama.