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Nursing School Degree Programs Decatur Alabama

How to Find the Best Nursing Degree Program near Decatur AL

Decatur AL Nurse with Physician and PatientFinding the right nursing school near Decatur AL may seem like a complex endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least costly college or the one that is closest to your residence is undoubtedly not the best way to select a nursing program. There are a number of key additional aspects to check out before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Decatur AL RN taking vital signs of woman

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Decatur AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing 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), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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

Decatur Alabama Nurse assisting surgeon

There are several degree options available 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 earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short 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 typically a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want 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 usually a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has acquired 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 can vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Degrees

Decatur Alabama woman attending RN school onlineAttending nursing schools online is becoming a more in demand way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend school for some Decatur AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Programs

Once you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Decatur AL or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout 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 workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other schools.

  • 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 get a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine 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 assessments 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 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 healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Decatur AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Decatur AL Nursing Program

Picking the ideal nursing program is arguably the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the health care field. There are various aspects that you must take into account when deciding on a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out within this post, it is important that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Decatur AL.