How to Select the Right RN Degree Program near Center Point Alabama
Finding the right nursing program near Center Point AL may seem like a complicated endeavor, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house is no doubt not the best way to select a nursing program. There are many key additional aspects to check into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree choices that are offered as well as what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, including Center Point AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and typically 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.
Nursing College Degree Options
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 obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to obtain 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 Center Point AL area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later 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 colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed 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 employment market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a two year program after obtaining 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 obtained 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. Other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Degrees
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend school for many Center Point AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and household commitments have left you with little 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.
Why Enter the Nursing Profession?Nurses are an indispensable part of a Center Point AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to many opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a hospital or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often go into the profession out of a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This humanistic aspect of the health profession, as opposed to the analytical or research related facets, is appealing to many who choose to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from a number of work settings, including nursing homes, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specialties, including addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although most nurses provide personal patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Center Point AL or online, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the field.
- 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. Besides helping verify that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Center Point AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specified 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 a top-notch education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Center Point 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 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 displeased 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 Center Point AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Center Point AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Alabama RN School
Choosing the right nursing school is arguably the most crucial step to launching a new career in the health care field. There are many variables that you need to think about when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Center Point Alabama.