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Nursing School Degree Programs Tuscaloosa Alabama

How to Select the Best Nursing College near Tuscaloosa AL

Tuscaloosa AL Nurse with Doctor and PatientSelecting the right nursing college near Tuscaloosa AL may seem like a challenging project, especially 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 need to obtain the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and measure the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least costly school or the one that is closest to your residence is undoubtedly not the best way to select a nursing program. There are various crucial additional aspects to check into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree alternatives that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Tuscaloosa AL RN taking blood pressure of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific 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
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. 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 routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

Tuscaloosa Alabama Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option available 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 earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Tuscaloosa Alabama area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 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 want 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 usually a 2 year program after obtaining 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) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Schools

Tuscaloosa AL student attending nursing classes onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some Tuscaloosa AL students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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 family responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an essential component of a Tuscaloosa AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to a number of opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, the most notable are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a hospital or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often choose the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This humanistic side of the medical profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related facets, is appealing to many who choose to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work settings, including home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specialties, such as addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although most nurses deliver personal patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Programs

what to ask Tuscaloosa AL nursing training programsNow that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Tuscaloosa AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, 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 choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other schools.

  • 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. Besides helping verify that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact 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 colleges 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Tuscaloosa AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
  • 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Tuscaloosa AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best Tuscaloosa AL RN Program

Tuscaloosa AL RN holding babyPicking the ideal nursing college is perhaps the most critical phase to starting a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous variables that you need to think about when choosing a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have pointed out in this post, it is essential that you pick a nursing school 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 produce a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Tuscaloosa AL.