How to Pick the Best RN Degree Program near Montgomery AL
Searching for the best nursing program near Montgomery AL may feel like a difficult project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least costly college or the one that is closest to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are many crucial additional things to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree alternatives that are available along with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Montgomery AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced 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 administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
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 obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief 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 usually a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might 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 normally a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When 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) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Classes
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more favored way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend school for some Montgomery AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more 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 job and household commitments have left you with limited 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.
Why Choose the Nursing Profession?Nurses are an important 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, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, among the most notable are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly choose the profession due to a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the medical profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related facets, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work environments, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specialties, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses deliver primary patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
Questions to Ask Nursing Schools
Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Montgomery AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we already pointed out, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick 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. Aside from helping verify that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some 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 attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. In addition, check 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 judgments are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN colleges 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also important 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 healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Montgomery AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Montgomery AL RN School
Choosing the ideal nursing degree program is potentially the most important first step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are numerous aspects that you need to take into account when deciding on a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have emphasized within this article, it is essential that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to select 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.