How to Enroll In an Accredited RN Degree Program near Vestavia Hills AL
Finding the right nursing program near Vestavia Hills AL may seem like a difficult project, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and measure the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence is probably not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are many important additional factors to look into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher 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.
There is more than one degree option available 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 as little as 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six 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 normally a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish 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 obtaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing colleges online is becoming a more popular way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend classes for some Vestavia Hills AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, 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. And so if your job and family commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Why Enter the Nursing Profession?Nurses are an integral part of a Vestavia Hills AL medical team, and for many 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 many reasons, among the most significant are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a hospital or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses frequently go into the profession due to a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This humanistic aspect of the health profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related facets, is attractive to many who choose to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work environments, such as home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although many nurses provide direct patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Vestavia Hills AL or on the web, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are most likely going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping verify that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain 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 delivers an exceptional education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out 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 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 displeased 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 Vestavia Hills AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Vestavia Hills AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right Vestavia Hills AL RN School
Choosing the right nursing college is potentially the most important phase to starting a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of factors that you need to think about when choosing a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this post, it is essential that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Vestavia Hills AL.