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Nursing School Degree Programs Alabaster Alabama

How to Find the Best RN School near Alabaster AL

Alabaster AL Registered Nurse with Physician and PatientSelecting the best nursing program near Alabaster AL may feel like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and assess the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive school or the one that is local to your residence is most likely not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional things to check into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree options that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Alabaster AL Nurse taking blood pressure of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Alabaster AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Observing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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 Degrees

Alabaster Alabama Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees available to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Alabaster Alabama area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the job market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Programs

Alabaster AL woman attending nursing school onlineAttending nursing programs online is growing into a more in demand way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend college for some Alabaster AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary 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 like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family obligations have left you with limited 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.

Why Choose the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an indispensable component of a Alabaster AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to many opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often choose the profession due to a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This humanistic side of the medical profession, as opposed to the analytical or research related aspects, is attractive to many who decide to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work environments, including nursing homes, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, including addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While most nurses provide direct patient care, others choose to be educators, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

questions to ask Alabaster AL nursing training programsOnce you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Alabaster AL or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors 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 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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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. Many states require a specific 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 delivers a top-notch education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call 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 colleges 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Alabaster AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Alabaster AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Right Alabaster AL Nursing Program

Alabaster AL nurse holding newbornPicking the ideal nursing school is arguably the most critical step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous variables that you must consider when deciding on a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this article, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Alabaster AL.