How to Pick an Accredited Nursing Program near Auburn AL
Finding the best nursing program near Auburn AL may seem like a formidable endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the necessary 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 contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their determination entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least costly college or the one that is closest to your residence is no doubt not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are various important additional aspects to investigate before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Auburn AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with 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
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex 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 administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Auburn Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish 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 normally a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When 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) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more favored way to obtain training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend classes for many Auburn AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Auburn AL 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 Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see 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. Aside from helping verify that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary 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 specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Auburn AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgments 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 superb reputation within the Auburn AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain 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 Auburn AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Auburn AL Nursing Program
Choosing the ideal nursing program is perhaps the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are various aspects that you need to take into account when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out in this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Auburn AL.