How to Find the Best Nursing School near Prattville AL
Choosing the right nursing program near Prattville AL may seem like a complicated endeavor, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least costly college or the one that is closest to your home is no doubt not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional factors to investigate before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are offered together with what the functions of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Prattville AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing 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 instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly 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 Degrees Available
There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And in order 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 achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Prattville Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish to advance 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 commonly a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has acquired 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. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more popular way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend school for some Prattville AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and household commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Prattville AL or online, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other programs.
- 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 agency. In addition to helping confirm that you get a quality 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 prerequisites 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, 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 requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Prattville 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Prattville AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Prattville AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Choose the Right Prattville AL Nursing School
Enrolling in the ideal nursing program is perhaps the most important step to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are a number of factors that you should take into account when selecting a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this post, it is critical that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Prattville AL.