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Nursing School Degree Programs Florence Alabama

How to Pick the Right RN College near Florence AL

Florence AL Registered Nurse with Physician and PatientSearching for the right nursing school near Florence AL may feel like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their determination entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence is probably not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional aspects to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are available together with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Florence AL RN taking vital signs of woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Florence AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general 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 as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating 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 high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Florence Alabama Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees 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 just 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Florence Alabama area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 normally a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After 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) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Schools

Florence AL student attending RN classes onlineEnrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more in demand way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend classes for some Florence AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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. So if your job and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an essential component of a Florence AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to many opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, the most notable are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a hospital or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses frequently choose the profession out of a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human side of the healthcare profession, rather than the analytical or research related aspects, is appealing to many who decide to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number of work settings, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specializations, including addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses provide direct patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.

Questions to Ask Nursing Schools

questions to ask Florence AL nursing training programsNow that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Florence AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are most likely going to be the first two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final choice, 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 quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary 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 certain 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 exceptional education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact 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 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Florence AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships 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 specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of 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 assist with the placement of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Florence AL Nursing Program

Florence AL pediatric nurse holding newbornEnrolling in the right nursing program is perhaps the most critical phase to starting a new career in the medical care field. There are a number of aspects that you need to think about when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this content, it is essential that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Florence AL.