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Nursing School Degree Programs Florence Alabama

How to Pick an Accredited Nursing School near Florence AL

Florence AL RN with Doctor and PatientLocating the right nursing school near Florence AL may seem like a difficult undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your residence is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional aspects to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Florence AL Nurse taking blood pressure of patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including Florence AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. 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 routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Florence Alabama Nurse assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option to choose from 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 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief 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 generally a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified 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 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 generally a 2 year program after receiving 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 earned 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. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Degrees

Florence AL student attending RN college onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more popular way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some Florence AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an integral part 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, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, the most significant are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a hospital or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often go into the profession out of a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the health profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related facets, is attractive to many who elect to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work settings, including nursing homes, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although many nurses provide direct patient care, others choose to be educators, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

Questions to Ask Nursing Schools

what to ask Florence AL nursing degree schoolsOnce you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Florence AL or online, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. 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 decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school and the price of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the field.

  • 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. Besides helping confirm that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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. Some states require a specified 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 readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out 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 opinions are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN programs 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative 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 obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Florence AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Florence AL Nursing School

Florence AL pediatric nurse holding babyEnrolling in the right nursing program is perhaps the most critical step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many aspects that you need to think about when choosing a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have highlighted in this post, it is important that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Florence AL.