How to Enroll In the Right Nursing College near Huntsville AL
Searching for the right nursing college near Huntsville AL may feel like a challenging project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and measure the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least expensive college or the one that is local to your home is most likely not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are many essential additional factors to explore before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Huntsville AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to help doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
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 receive a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Huntsville Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later obtain a higher 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 eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might 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 attaining 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 received one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more popular way to receive training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend classes for some Huntsville AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, 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. And so if your job and household commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Why Nursing?Nurses are an essential part of a Huntsville AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, the most significant are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a hospital or home care environment 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 instances of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This humanistic aspect of the medical profession, rather than the research or analytical related elements, is appealing to many who decide to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from an assortment of work environments, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specialties, including substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although many nurses deliver personal patient care, others opt to be educators, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have chosen 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 undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other programs.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping confirm that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available 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. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine 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 programs 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Huntsville AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Check 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
Selecting the ideal nursing degree program is perhaps the most crucial step to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are numerous aspects that you need to consider when deciding on a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have highlighted within this content, it is important that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Huntsville AL.