How to Select the Right RN School near Montgomery AL
Choosing the right nursing program near Montgomery AL may seem like a formidable endeavor, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence is most likely not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are several key additional aspects to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the functions of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Montgomery AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular 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:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, 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.
Nursing Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option 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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Montgomery Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps 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 obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past 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 job market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is usually a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has earned 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 change from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance 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 center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend classes for some Montgomery AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous 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 responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Why Choose Nursing as a Career?Nurses are an essential part of a Montgomery AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to a number of opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, among the most meaningful are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a hospital or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently choose the profession due to a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This human side of the health profession, rather than the research or analytical related elements, is appealing to many who elect to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work settings, including home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although many nurses deliver direct patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Montgomery AL or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other programs.
- 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. In addition to helping ensure that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary 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 performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards 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 organizations for their reviews as well. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Montgomery AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain 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 certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Montgomery AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right Montgomery AL RN Program
Picking the right nursing program is potentially the most critical phase to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are various factors that you must think about when deciding on a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is essential that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Montgomery AL.