How to Select the Best Nursing Program near Vestavia Hills AL
Searching for the right nursing program near Vestavia Hills AL may seem like a difficult undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many future students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least costly program or the one that is closest to your house is no doubt not the best way to select a nursing program. There are many crucial additional considerations to look into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine 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 healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, including Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to aid 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 duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing 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 high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are several degree options offered 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 receive a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations 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 usually a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous 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 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has earned 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. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Classes
Enrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more popular way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend school for some Vestavia Hills AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Why Become a Nurse?Nurses are an integral component of a Vestavia Hills AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to a number of opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, among the most meaningful are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a medical facility or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses frequently choose the profession out of a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This human aspect of the health profession, rather than the research or analytical related aspects, is appealing to many who decide to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from an assortment of work settings, such as home care facilities, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specialties, including addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While most nurses deliver personal patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Vestavia Hills AL or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping confirm that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along 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 imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations 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 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 looking at 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 unhappy 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 superb reputation within the Vestavia Hills AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Vestavia Hills AL area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Vestavia Hills AL RN School
Picking the right nursing school is potentially the most crucial phase to starting a new career in the medical care field. There are many variables that you must consider when selecting a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out in this article, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Vestavia Hills AL.