How to Enroll In the Best RN Course near Montgomery AL
Selecting the right nursing school near Montgomery AL may seem like a challenging undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least costly program or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are many crucial additional considerations to investigate before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Montgomery AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function 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 few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options available 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 advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Montgomery Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later 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 four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior 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 job market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Classes
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more favored way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend college for some Montgomery AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, 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 work and family obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Montgomery AL or online, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares 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 agency. Besides helping make sure that you receive a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, 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 prepares you to meet 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 also. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with 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 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 displeased 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 good reputation within the Montgomery AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Montgomery AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Montgomery AL RN Program
Enrolling in the right nursing degree program is perhaps the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are numerous factors that you should consider when deciding on a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed in this post, it is important that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our list 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 dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Montgomery AL.