How to Find the Right Nursing Degree Program near Madison AL
Selecting the best nursing school near Madison AL may feel like a challenging undertaking, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and measure the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least costly college or the one that is closest to your residence is no doubt not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are many key additional aspects to check into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are offered along with what the roles of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Madison AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing 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 often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Madison Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish 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 commonly a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has received 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. Other 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 Schools
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more in demand way to get training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for some Madison AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous 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 family responsibilities 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 busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Madison AL or on the web, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within 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 workable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the field.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping verify that you obtain a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check 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 assessments are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN colleges 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 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 favorable reputation within the Madison AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Check 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 Nursing Program
Choosing the ideal nursing college is arguably the most critical step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are various factors that you must consider when deciding on a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have pointed out within this post, it is essential that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Madison AL.