How to Select the Best Nursing College near Dothan AL
Searching for the right nursing school near Dothan AL may seem like a complex undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and assess the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their determination entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly college or the one that is closest to your home is most likely not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of important additional factors to check out before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree alternatives that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Dothan AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role 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 as well as where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options offered 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 earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Dothan Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want 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 normally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has attained 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. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Degrees
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more popular way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating answer to finding the free time to attend school for some Dothan AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even additional 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. Therefore if your job and family responsibilities 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 busy schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Dothan AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided 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) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some 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 enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Dothan 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 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 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 verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Dothan AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain 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 too. Check if the schools have associations with Dothan AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Dothan AL Nursing School
Enrolling in the right nursing degree program is potentially the most important first step to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are numerous variables that you should take into account when choosing a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have highlighted within this content, it is important that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Dothan AL.