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Nursing School Degree Programs Vestavia Hills Alabama

How to Enroll In an Accredited Nursing School near Vestavia Hills AL

Vestavia Hills AL Registered Nurse with Doctor and PatientLocating the best nursing college near Vestavia Hills AL may feel like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least costly school or the one that is closest to your residence is probably not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are various crucial additional aspects to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are available together with what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Vestavia Hills AL RN taking blood pressure of patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Vestavia Hills Alabama RN assisting surgeon

There are several degree options to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short 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 normally a 2 year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 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 usually a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When 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. Additional 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 Programs

Vestavia Hills AL student attending nursing college onlineEnrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend classes for many Vestavia Hills AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may 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. Therefore if your work and household commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

Now that you have chosen 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 pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, 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 manageable list. As we already pointed out, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often 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) together with 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 attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find 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 judgments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN programs you are looking at 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 essential 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 contacts to assist 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Find out 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.

Enroll in the Best Vestavia Hills AL RN Program

Vestavia Hills Alabama nurse holding patient chartChoosing the ideal nursing college is perhaps the most critical step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are a number of factors that you must take into account when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have emphasized within this post, it is important that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community.  By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Vestavia Hills AL.