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Nursing School Degree Programs Huntsville Alabama

How to Select the Best Nursing Training Program near Huntsville AL

Huntsville AL Registered Nurse with Physician and PatientFinding the right nursing school near Huntsville AL may feel like a difficult undertaking, especially if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house is most likely not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are several crucial additional factors to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree alternatives that are offered as well as what the roles of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Huntsville AL RN taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare 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 general function is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Conducting 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 complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Huntsville Alabama Nurse assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option 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 acquire a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short 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 normally a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities 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 expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior 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 job market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Classes

Huntsville Alabama student attending nursing school onlineAttending nursing programs online is growing into a more popular way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend school for some Huntsville AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. 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 limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

Once you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Huntsville AL or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school and the price of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will consider. 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 verify that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find 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 judgments 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also important 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 medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Huntsville AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Huntsville AL Nursing Program

Enrolling in the right nursing school is potentially the most critical first step to launching a new career in the health care field. There are many variables that you need to think about when choosing a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have pointed out within this post, it is important 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 produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Huntsville AL.