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Nursing School Degree Programs Tuscaloosa Alabama

How to Select the Right RN Course near Tuscaloosa AL

Tuscaloosa AL RN with Doctor and PatientSelecting the best nursing program near Tuscaloosa AL may seem like a complicated project, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least costly college or the one that is closest to your house is most likely not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are many crucial additional considerations to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are offered as well as what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Tuscaloosa AL RN taking vital signs of woman

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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 RN assisting surgeon

There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And 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 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 typically a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a four 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 might want 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 normally a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

Once 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) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Degrees

Tuscaloosa Alabama woman attending RN school onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more favored way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend classes for some Tuscaloosa AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. 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 job and family obligations have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Now that you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Tuscaloosa AL or online, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other programs.

  • 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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. 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 prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Tuscaloosa 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 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Tuscaloosa AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Tuscaloosa AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best Tuscaloosa AL Nursing Program

Choosing the right nursing school is perhaps the most crucial phase to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are many aspects that you must consider when deciding on a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this post, it is important that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Tuscaloosa AL.