How to Find the Right Nursing College in Birmingham Alabama
Selecting the right nursing school in Birmingham AL may seem like a formidable undertaking, particularly if you aren’t sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Having said that, too many potential students base their selection solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the nursing school. Choosing the least costly program or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are various essential additional considerations to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let’s first review what the job of a registered nurse is in our health system, as well as the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system in Birmingham AL. RNs practice in many different medical environments, including hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses in Birmingham AL with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option to choose from 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 just two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in Birmingham AL.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in Birmingham AL medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently 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 Birmingham AL colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire to progress 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 example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Birmingham AL board of nursing for any state mandates.
LVN and LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are essentially two scholastic credentials available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest amount of time, generally about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma course. The second choice is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and generally require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, aside from supplying a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, are that they furnish more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you seek, it needs to be Birmingham AL approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the core curriculum adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from one to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to receive at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction directed and every state has its own requirements. So it’s crucial to make sure that the program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to contact the health or nursing board for Birmingham AL to make certain that the education is state certified. As well as the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be additional requirements as well.
Nursing Online Programs
Attending nursing schools online is growing into a more popular way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local Birmingham AL healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend classes for some students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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. So if your job and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nurse Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Birmingham AL and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping make sure that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided for non-accredited schools in Birmingham AL.
- 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements 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 looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some nearby Birmingham AL healthcare organizations you’re interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgements 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It’s also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Birmingham AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a Birmingham AL clinical environment. Virtually all Alabama nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with local hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Select the Right RN Course in Birmingham AL
Deciding on the ideal registered nursing school is probably the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are a number of aspects that you should think about when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out in this article, it is essential that you select an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Birmingham AL.
Why Did You Decide to Be an RN?When prepping to interview for a nursing position, it's important to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers often ask nursing prospects is "What drove you to select nursing as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a nurse, but also what qualities and talents you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to nursing, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize a number of approaches about how you want to respond to them. Considering there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an exceptional nurse and the leading candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
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