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Nursing School Degree Programs Tuscaloosa Alabama

How to Pick the Right RN Course near Tuscaloosa AL

Tuscaloosa AL Registered Nurse with Doctor and PatientChoosing the best nursing program near Tuscaloosa AL may feel like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least costly program or the one that is closest to your residence is most likely not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are several crucial additional factors to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are available together with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Tuscaloosa AL RN taking vital signs of patient

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically 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 Degree Options

Tuscaloosa Alabama Nurse assisting surgeon

There are several degree options to choose from to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Tuscaloosa Alabama area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is normally 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 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 usually a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

Once 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) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Schools

Tuscaloosa AL student attending nursing school onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is growing into a more in demand way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend classes for many Tuscaloosa AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family obligations have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an important component of a Tuscaloosa AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for many reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a medical facility or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often go into the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic ailments. This humanistic aspect of the medical profession, rather than the analytical or research related facets, is attractive to many who decide to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specialties, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses deliver primary patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Programs

what to ask Tuscaloosa AL nursing training collegesOnce you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Tuscaloosa AL or online, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout 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 already discussed, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other schools.

  • 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Tuscaloosa 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Tuscaloosa AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Tuscaloosa AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Tuscaloosa AL RN Program

Tuscaloosa AL nurse holding newbornDeciding on the ideal nursing college is arguably the most critical phase to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of aspects that you must think about when picking a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have stressed within this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Tuscaloosa AL.