How to Find the Right RN School near Alabaster AL
Choosing the best nursing college near Alabaster AL may seem like a complex project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many future students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional aspects to investigate before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are offered together with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, including Alabaster AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function 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 area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses 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 normally 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.
There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Alabaster Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is usually a 2 year program after receiving 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, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more in demand way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many 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 healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend classes for some Alabaster AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Alabaster AL or online, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares 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 agency. In addition to helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ 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. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Alabaster 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 considering 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 dissatisfied 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 favorable reputation within the Alabaster AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Alabaster AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Alabaster AL Nursing School
Enrolling in the right nursing college is probably the most critical phase to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of variables that you need to take into account when choosing a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have pointed out within this article, it is critical that you choose a nursing school 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 select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Alabaster AL.