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Nursing School Degree Programs Decatur Alabama

How to Choose the Best Nursing Course near Decatur AL

Decatur AL Registered Nurse with Physician and PatientChoosing the best nursing program near Decatur AL may feel like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training in order 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. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your home is probably not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional factors to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree choices that are offered as well as what the roles of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Decatur AL Nurse taking vital signs of woman

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

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. 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 Available

Decatur Alabama Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option offered 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 earn a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Decatur Alabama area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a more advanced 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 able 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 job market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

Once a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Programs

Decatur Alabama woman attending nursing college onlineEnrolling in nursing colleges online is growing into a more in demand way to obtain training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Decatur AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many 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 family responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

Once you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Decatur AL or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, 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 agency. Besides helping make sure that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find 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 programs 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Decatur AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Decatur AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Choose the Best Decatur AL RN Program

Selecting the ideal nursing degree program is arguably the most important phase to beginning a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of variables that you should think about when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have stressed within this article, it is essential that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent 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 ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Decatur AL.