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Nursing School Degree Programs Huntsville Alabama

How to Select an Accredited Nursing Program near Huntsville AL

Huntsville AL RN with Doctor and PatientLocating the right nursing college near Huntsville AL may seem like a difficult project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your residence is no doubt not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are various important additional considerations to explore before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the functions of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Huntsville AL RN taking vital signs of patient

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Huntsville AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Keeping health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly 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 Degree Options

Huntsville Alabama RN 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 as little as two years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six 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 two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 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 typically a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

After 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. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Degrees

Huntsville AL student attending nursing classes onlineAttending nursing programs online is becoming a more preferred way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many Huntsville AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Now that you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Huntsville AL or on the internet, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the field.

  • 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. Besides helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the assessments are for each 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 contact 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 unhappy 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 medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Huntsville AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best Huntsville AL Nursing School

Huntsville Alabama nurse holding medical chartDeciding on the right nursing school is potentially the most important phase to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are various aspects that you should consider when selecting a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed in this article, it is essential that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community.  By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Huntsville AL.