How to Select the Right RN Program near Montgomery AL
Selecting the right nursing program near Montgomery AL may feel like a difficult endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to look 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 critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive college or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are many key additional factors to check into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are offered as well as what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Montgomery AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option offered 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 advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries 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 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a four 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 may wish to progress 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 generally a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example 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 vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more popular way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend college for some Montgomery AL students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and household responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Why Become a Nurse?Nurses are an integral component of a Montgomery AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, among the most meaningful are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a medical facility or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often go into the profession out of a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human side of the health profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related facets, is appealing to many who choose to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work settings, including nursing homes, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specialties, including addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses provide personal patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Montgomery AL or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the field.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out 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 judgments 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Montgomery AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Montgomery AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery AL RN School
Deciding on the right nursing degree program is perhaps the most crucial step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are a number of variables that you should think about when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed in this content, it is essential that you pick 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 develop a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Montgomery AL.