How to Pick the Right Nursing Program near Vestavia Hills AL
Choosing the best nursing school near Vestavia Hills AL may feel like a complex endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their determination exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is local to your house is most likely not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of important additional considerations to look into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And 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 just 2 years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Vestavia Hills Alabama area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 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 commonly a two year program after attaining 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 received 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. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more in demand way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend college for many Vestavia Hills AL students. Regarding tuition, many 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 many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So 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 active schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Vestavia Hills AL or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see 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 organization. Aside from helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often 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. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Vestavia Hills 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 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 substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Vestavia Hills AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Vestavia Hills AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Vestavia Hills AL RN Program
Deciding on the right nursing degree program is arguably the most crucial first step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are numerous variables that you must consider when deciding on a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this article, it is important that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Vestavia Hills AL.