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Nursing School Degree Programs Huntsville Alabama

How to Choose the Right RN School near Huntsville AL

Huntsville AL Registered Nurse with Doctor and PatientFinding the right nursing program near Huntsville AL may feel like a complicated project, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least costly college or the one that is local to your residence is most likely not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are several essential additional aspects to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are available together with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Huntsville AL RN taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Huntsville AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising 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 accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Huntsville Alabama Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

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 earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Huntsville Alabama area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want to progress 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 normally a 2 year program after obtaining 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 obtained 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. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Schools

Huntsville AL woman attending RN school onlineAttending nursing programs online is growing into a more in demand way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend school for some Huntsville AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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 household commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Choose the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an important 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 many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for many reasons, among the most notable are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often go into the profession due to a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This human aspect of the medical profession, rather than the research or analytical related facets, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work settings, including home care facilities, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses provide primary patient care, others choose to be educators, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

what to ask Huntsville AL nursing degree programsNow that you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Huntsville AL or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other schools.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary 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. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet 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 each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies 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 call 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 colleges 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 unhappy 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 superb reputation within the Huntsville AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
  • 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Find out 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 RN School

Huntsville AL nurse holding newbornEnrolling in the ideal nursing program is probably the most critical phase to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous aspects that you need to consider when choosing a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have highlighted within this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Huntsville AL.