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Nursing School Degree Programs Tuscaloosa Alabama

How to Pick an Accredited Nursing Course near Tuscaloosa AL

Tuscaloosa AL Nurse with Physician and PatientChoosing the right nursing program near Tuscaloosa AL may seem like a complex project, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many future students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are various crucial additional factors to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree alternatives that are offered as well as what the roles of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Tuscaloosa AL RN taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

Tuscaloosa Alabama Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees 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 two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief 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 commonly a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their prior 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 typically 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.

After a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Schools

Tuscaloosa AL woman attending nursing classes onlineEnrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more favored way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend school for many Tuscaloosa AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous 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 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 active schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an important component of a Tuscaloosa AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, the most significant are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a medical facility or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently go into the profession due to a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the health profession, rather than the analytical or research related aspects, is attractive to many who elect to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, such as home care facilities, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although many nurses deliver primary patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Schools

questions to ask Tuscaloosa AL nursing training programsOnce you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Tuscaloosa AL or online, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are undoubtedly 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 prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the field.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, check with 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 assessments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools 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 dissatisfied 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 favorable reputation within the Tuscaloosa AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Tuscaloosa AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Choose the Best Tuscaloosa AL RN Program

Tuscaloosa AL pediatric nurse holding newbornSelecting the ideal nursing college is perhaps the most important phase to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are various variables that you need to consider when deciding on a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have stressed within this content, it is essential that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Tuscaloosa AL.