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Nursing School Degree Programs Florence Alabama

How to Pick the Right RN Degree Program near Florence AL

Florence AL Nurse with Physician and PatientFinding the best nursing college near Florence AL may feel like a complex endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many future students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your home is probably not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional aspects to look into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are offered together with what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Florence AL Nurse taking vital signs of patient

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Florence AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Keeping health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an 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 routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Florence Alabama area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might 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 commonly a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

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

Nursing Online Degrees

Florence AL woman attending RN classes onlineEnrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more preferred way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Florence AL students. Pertaining to 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 a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and household commitments have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

Once you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Florence AL or on the internet, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other programs.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you get a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ 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. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check 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 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 displeased 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 superb reputation within the Florence AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Florence AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Florence AL RN Program

Florence Alabama RN holding patient chartSelecting the right nursing school is arguably the most critical phase to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various aspects that you need to think about when deciding on a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this post, it is essential that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community.  By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Florence AL.