How to Choose an Accredited RN College near Decatur AL
Selecting the best nursing college near Decatur AL may seem like a formidable project, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many future students base their selection solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are many important additional aspects to investigate before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree choices that are available along with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, including Decatur AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally 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 Degrees Available
There are several degree options offered 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 obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Decatur Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually 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 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 generally 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.
When 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) in order to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Classes
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend school for many Decatur AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, 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 household obligations have left you with very 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 hectic schedule.
Why Nursing?Nurses are an essential part of a Decatur AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for several reasons, among the most significant are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often choose the profession due to a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This humanistic side of the health profession, as opposed to the analytical or research related aspects, is appealing to many who decide to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, including addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses deliver personal patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Decatur AL or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other schools.
- 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 agency. Aside from helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific 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 an excellent education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the reviews 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 check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Decatur 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 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Decatur AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Decatur AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Decatur AL Nursing School
Selecting the right nursing school is perhaps the most critical phase to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many factors that you should take into account when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this post, it is important that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Decatur AL.