How to Find an Accredited Nursing College near Florence AL
Choosing the right nursing school near Florence AL may feel like a complex project, particularly 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 must acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many future students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are many crucial additional things to investigate before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are available along with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Florence AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
There are multiple degrees offered to become a nurse. And 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 two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Florence Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically 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 extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want 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 two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has acquired 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 change from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Classes
Attending nursing colleges online is becoming a more popular way to obtain training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend college for some Florence AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, 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. And so if your job and household commitments have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Florence AL or online, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the field.
- 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 confirm that you get an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided 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) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific 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 delivers an outstanding education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Florence 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Florence AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Florence AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Florence AL RN School
Deciding on the right nursing college is arguably the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of variables that you should think about when choosing a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist 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 desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Florence AL.