How to Choose an Accredited Nursing Training Program near Gadsden AL
Finding the best nursing college near Gadsden AL may feel like a challenging project, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence is most likely not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are many important additional considerations to explore before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree choices that are available along with what the roles of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Gadsden AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often 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.
There is more than one degree option available 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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Gadsden Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past 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 job market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After 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) in order to become licensed. Additional 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
Enrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more popular way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend classes for many Gadsden AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous 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 commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Schools
Once you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Gadsden AL or online, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, 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 other schools.
- 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 agency. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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) in addition to 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 important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Gadsden 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 unhappy 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 Gadsden AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Gadsden AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right Gadsden AL Nursing Program
Selecting the ideal nursing college is potentially the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are many factors that you should take into account when choosing a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this post, it is essential that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Gadsden AL.