How to Enroll In the Best Nursing College near Gadsden AL
Selecting the right nursing school near Gadsden AL may feel like a challenging project, especially if you aren't sure 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 appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least costly school or the one that is closest to your home is probably not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are several important additional factors to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree alternatives that are offered as well as what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Gadsden AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options 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 just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short 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 usually a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed 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 employment market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more in demand way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend college for many Gadsden AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of 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 responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Why Enter the Nursing Profession?Nurses are an integral part of a Gadsden AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, the most notable are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often choose the profession due to a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the medical profession, as opposed to the analytical or research related aspects, is attractive to many who decide to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number of work settings, including home care facilities, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specialties, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While most nurses provide primary patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
Questions to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Gadsden AL or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares 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 ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain 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 provides an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations 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 Gadsden 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Gadsden AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Gadsden AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Gadsden AL Nursing Program
Enrolling in the right nursing program is perhaps the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are numerous variables that you need to take into account when picking a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this post, it is critical that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Gadsden AL.