How to Select the Right Nursing Training Program near Montgomery AL
Locating the best nursing school near Montgomery AL may feel like a difficult project, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least costly program or the one that is closest to your house is no doubt not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are many essential additional aspects to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the functions of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Montgomery AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
There are multiple degrees available 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 continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short 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 typically a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn 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 qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their past 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 receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate 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) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Classes
Enrolling in nursing schools online is growing into a more preferred way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend college for some Montgomery AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and family commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Montgomery AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate 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 agency. Aside from helping verify that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain 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 an excellent education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Montgomery AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their opinions are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN programs 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 displeased 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 relationships to assist students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Montgomery AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery AL Nursing Program
Selecting the right nursing program is probably the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are various variables that you need to take into account when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this post, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist 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 appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Montgomery AL.