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Nursing School Degree Programs Decatur Alabama

How to Enroll In the Best RN Program near Decatur AL

Decatur AL RN with Doctor and PatientLocating the best nursing program near Decatur AL may feel like a difficult undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and measure the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are several crucial additional aspects to explore before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are offered together with what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Decatur AL Nurse taking vital signs of patient

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Decatur AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex 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 provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

Decatur Alabama Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in just two 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 available to aspiring students in the Decatur Alabama area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is commonly 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 desire to progress 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 2 year program after receiving 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) so as to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Programs

Decatur AL student attending nursing college onlineAttending nursing colleges online is becoming a more favored way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend college for some Decatur AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and family obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Nursing?

Nurses are an integral component of a Decatur AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, the most significant are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often go into the profession due to a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the medical profession, as opposed to the analytical or research related aspects, is attractive to many who choose to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work settings, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses deliver primary patient care, others choose to be educators, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Colleges

questions to ask Decatur AL nursing training collegesOnce you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Decatur AL or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous 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 already mentioned, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the field.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping verify that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered 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 specific 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 an outstanding education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Decatur 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 colleges 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 unhappy 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 Decatur AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Decatur AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Right Decatur AL RN School

Decatur AL nurse holding babyPicking the ideal nursing college is arguably the most important phase to beginning a new career in the medical care industry. There are many variables that you should think about when picking a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out in this post, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop 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 dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Decatur AL.