How to Select the Right Nursing School near Vestavia Hills AL
Searching for the best nursing program near Vestavia Hills AL may seem like a difficult undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and measure the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least costly school or the one that is local to your residence is no doubt not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are several key additional considerations to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.
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 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 Vestavia Hills Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire to advance 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 receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When 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) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Programs
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend college for some Vestavia Hills AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, 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 household responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Vestavia Hills AL or online, you can utilize the following pointers 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 important to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other programs.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Alabama for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to satisfy 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 all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Vestavia Hills 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 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 confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Vestavia Hills AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Vestavia Hills AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Vestavia Hills AL Nursing School
Selecting the right nursing degree program is arguably the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of variables that you need to take into account when picking a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have emphasized in this content, it is essential that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop 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 dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Vestavia Hills AL.