How to Select a Nursing School in Opelika Alabama
Finding the right nursing program in Opelika AL may seem like a complex project, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and assess the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Having said that, too many future students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the nursing school. Picking the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your residence is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are several important additional things to explore before you determine 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 medical system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system in Opelika AL. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses in Opelika AL with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. 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 are several degree options available 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 continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered in Opelika AL.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in Opelika AL healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Opelika AL colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the job market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After 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) so as to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don’t forget to check with the Opelika AL board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Certificates and Degrees
There are essentially two academic credentials offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest time period, normally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The next alternative is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with offering a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you seek, it needs to be Opelika AL approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the syllabus effectively 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 earn a college degree. CNA instruction can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school. The duration 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 have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal period of training directed and every state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s essential to make certain that the course you enroll in not only satisfies 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 Opelika AL to make sure that the training course is state approved. As well as the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional requirements as well.
Nursing Online Programs
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local Opelika AL healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend school for many students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and family commitments have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nurse Colleges
Now that you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Opelika AL and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, 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 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 confirm that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided for non-accredited schools in Opelika AL.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses are different 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. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some local Opelika 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were unhappy 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 favorable reputation within the Opelika AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a Opelika AL clinical setting. Essentially all Alabama nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with community hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Pick the Right RN Program in Opelika AL
Choosing the right registered nursing program is probably the most critical phase to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are various aspects that you should think about when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out in this post, it is important that you select an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop 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 dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Opelika AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become an RN?When prepping to interview for a nursing position, it's advantageous to review questions you may be asked. One of the things that hiring managers typically ask nursing applicants is "What compelled you to choose nursing as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a nurse, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to nursing, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you must organize a number of ideas about how you would like to address them. Because there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding nurse and the leading choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down some ideas and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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