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Nursing School Degree Programs Huntsville Alabama

How to Find the Best RN School near Huntsville AL

Huntsville AL RN with Physician and PatientSelecting the right nursing college near Huntsville AL may feel like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your home is probably not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of important additional things to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are offered along with what the roles of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Huntsville AL RN taking vital signs of patient

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely Huntsville AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Keeping health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

Huntsville Alabama Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

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

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position 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) provides more in depth 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 might wish 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 two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After 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) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Schools

Huntsville Alabama student attending nursing college onlineEnrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend school for many Huntsville AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Schools

Once you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Huntsville AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick compares 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. Besides helping ensure that you receive a premium education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific 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 provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Huntsville 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 colleges you are considering 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 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 Huntsville AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get 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 mandates for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Huntsville AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best Huntsville AL Nursing Program

Deciding on the right nursing degree program is arguably the most crucial phase to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many aspects that you should think about when selecting a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have highlighted within this post, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Huntsville AL.