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Nursing School Degree Programs Florence Alabama

How to Select the Right RN Degree Program near Florence AL

Florence AL RN with Physician and PatientChoosing the best nursing program near Florence AL may feel like a challenging project, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and measure the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their determination exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is local to your residence is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are several essential additional factors to check into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree alternatives that are offered as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Florence AL RN taking vital signs of woman

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Florence AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

Florence Alabama Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees available 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 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six 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 generally a two 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 subsequently attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able 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 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 usually a 2 year program after receiving 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 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. Various other requirements for licensing 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

Florence AL woman attending nursing classes onlineAttending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more preferred way to get training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating answer to finding the free time to attend college for some Florence AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more easily 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 work and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Choose the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an important part of a Florence AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, among the most meaningful are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly go into the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic ailments. This human side of the healthcare profession, rather than the analytical or research related facets, is attractive to many who decide to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a variety of work settings, including home care facilities, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although most nurses provide personal patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

what to ask Florence AL nursing degree schoolsOnce you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Florence AL or online, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping confirm that you receive a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed 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 imperative that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Florence 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 schools 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 good reputation within the Florence AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Florence AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Choose the Best Florence AL RN Program

Florence AL pediatric nurse holding babyDeciding on the right nursing college is potentially the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are a number of factors that you must think about when choosing a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this article, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list 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 desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Florence AL.