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Nursing School Degree Programs Huntsville Alabama

How to Select the Best RN School near Huntsville AL

Huntsville AL RN with Physician and PatientSelecting the right nursing school near Huntsville AL may feel like a difficult endeavor, especially 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 obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your home is probably not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are many important additional considerations to check out before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are available together with what the roles of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Huntsville AL RN taking vital signs of patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Huntsville AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating 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 example, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

Huntsville Alabama Nurse assisting surgeon

There are several degree options 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 obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Huntsville Alabama area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire 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 normally a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has attained 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. 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 Classes

Huntsville AL student attending RN classes onlineAttending nursing schools online is emerging as a more favored way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the time to attend college for some Huntsville AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplementary 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 like 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 work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an essential part of a Huntsville AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to a number of opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, among the most meaningful are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often go into the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This humanistic side of the medical profession, rather than the analytical or research related elements, is attractive to many who decide to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from an assortment of work settings, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specialties, including substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While most nurses deliver direct patient care, others opt to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

questions to ask Huntsville AL nursing degree programsNow that you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Huntsville AL or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are probably going to be the first two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only 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 ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites 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. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. 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 speak with some Huntsville 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 complete 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 Huntsville AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Huntsville AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Right Huntsville AL RN School

Huntsville AL nurse holding babySelecting the right nursing school is potentially the most important first step to launching a new career in the health care field. There are numerous factors that you must consider when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist 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 Huntsville AL.