How to Pick the Right RN Course near Madison AL
Searching for the right nursing program near Madison AL may seem like a difficult endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your residence is most likely not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are several essential additional aspects to investigate before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree options that are available along with what the functions of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Madison AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to help 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. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising 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 accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an 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 basic illnesses or injuries.
There are several degree options to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to earn 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 Madison Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally a four 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 employment market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Programs
Attending nursing schools online is becoming a more popular way to obtain instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend classes for some Madison AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. 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 pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Why Enter the Nursing Profession?Nurses are an essential part of a Madison AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to many opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often go into the profession out of a desire to tend 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, as opposed to the research or analytical related aspects, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from a number of work settings, including nursing homes, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses deliver direct patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Madison AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the field.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some 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 enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Madison 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 schools 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Madison AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get 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 mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Madison AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right Madison AL RN School
Selecting the right nursing school is probably the most crucial first step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many aspects that you need to take into account when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this content, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Madison AL.