How to Enroll In the Right RN Degree Program near Huntsville AL
Locating the right nursing school near Huntsville AL may seem like a complex undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are various essential additional factors to look into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are available as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Huntsville AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to support 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 as well as where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Managing 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 commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on 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 commonly a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able 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 job market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly 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.
After a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Classes
Attending nursing programs online is emerging as a more in demand way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend school for some Huntsville AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household obligations have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Why Become a Nurse?Nurses are an important part of a Huntsville AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, the most notable are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a hospital or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often go into the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This human side of the health profession, as opposed to the analytical or research related facets, is attractive to many who choose to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work environments, such as nursing homes, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although many nurses provide personal patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
Questions 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 online, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate 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. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses are different 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 specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, contact 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 schools you are considering 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 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Huntsville AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Huntsville AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Huntsville AL Nursing School
Choosing the ideal nursing program is perhaps the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are many variables that you need to think about when choosing a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have emphasized within this content, it is essential that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final 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.