How to Choose an Accredited Nursing Program near Montgomery AL
Selecting the right nursing program near Montgomery 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 already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least costly program or the one that is closest to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are several important additional aspects to check out before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree options that are available along with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Montgomery AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular 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
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. 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.
There are several degree options to choose from to become a nurse. And in order 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 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Montgomery Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want to progress 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 normally a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has obtained 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 can vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Programs
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more popular way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for some Montgomery AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and household obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Montgomery AL or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other programs.
- 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 organization. Aside from helping verify that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites 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) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only delivers a top-notch education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Montgomery 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Montgomery AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Montgomery AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Montgomery AL Nursing Program
Picking the right nursing school is arguably the most important step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various factors that you must take into account when selecting a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this post, it is essential that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist 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 Montgomery AL.