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Nursing School Degree Programs Birmingham Alabama

How to Enroll In the Right Nursing School near Birmingham AL

Birmingham AL Nurse with Physician and PatientLocating the right nursing college near Birmingham AL may seem like a complex endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training 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. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your home is no doubt not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional considerations to look into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree alternatives that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Birmingham AL RN taking blood pressure of woman

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including Birmingham AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex 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 administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

Birmingham Alabama Nurse assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option available 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 acquire a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Birmingham Alabama area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive 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 may wish 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 typically a two year program after obtaining 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 attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Classes

Birmingham Alabama woman attending RN college onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more favored way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend college for some Birmingham AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household 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 hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Programs

Once you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Birmingham AL or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the field.

  • 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. In addition to helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers a top-notch education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Birmingham AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments 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 confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Birmingham AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Birmingham AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best Birmingham AL Nursing Program

Picking the ideal nursing school is arguably the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous aspects that you should consider when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have pointed out in this article, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Birmingham AL.