How to Pick a Nursing School in Helena Alabama
Finding the right nursing school in Helena AL may seem like a complex project, especially if you aren’t sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the nursing school. Selecting the least costly college or the one that is closest to your house is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are many crucial additional aspects to check into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system in Helena AL. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses in Helena AL with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master’s Degree and often 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 Available
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 receive a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in Helena AL.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in Helena AL medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at Helena 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 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 typically a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Helena AL board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Programs
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 frame, usually about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The 2nd choice is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and normally require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, besides providing a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, it needs to be Helena AL approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the syllabus properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain 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 amount of training directed and every state has its own prerequisites. So it’s essential to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to contact the health or nursing board for Helena AL to make certain that the training course is state approved. Along with 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.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local Helena AL healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend school for some students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work 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 busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nurse Courses
Once you have decided on which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or online, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Helena AL and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other schools.
- Accreditation. It’s a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping verify that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools in Helena AL.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some regional Helena 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 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 displeased 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 good reputation within the Helena AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a Helena AL clinical environment. Almost all Alabama nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with community hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right RN College in Helena AL
Picking the ideal registered nursing college is arguably the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many variables that you should think about when deciding on a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized within this post, it is important that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Helena AL.
Why Did You Choose to Be an RN?When prepping to interview for a nursing job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the things that hiring managers typically ask nursing candidates is "What compelled you to pick nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for being a RN, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to nursing, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an excellent nurse and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
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