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How to Choose an Accredited Nursing Training Program near Cullman Alabama

Cullman Alabama RN checking patient with stethoscopeSearching for the best nursing program near Cullman AL may seem like a complex endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and measure the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your home is probably not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are many essential additional things to check into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Cullman Alabama nurse reading vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including Cullman AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally 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 School Degrees Available

There are multiple degrees to choose from 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 receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Cullman AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 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 may desire to progress 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 commonly a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

After 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. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Schools

Cullman Alabama RN holding medical chartEnrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend school for many Cullman AL students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Enter the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an essential part of a Cullman 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 healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, the most significant are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a medical facility or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often go into the profession due to a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This human side of the health profession, rather than the analytical or research related aspects, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a variety of work environments, including home care facilities, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although many nurses provide primary patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

RN interacting with Cullman Alabama assisted living patientNow that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Cullman AL or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are probably going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other schools.

  • 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 agency. In addition to helping verify that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Cullman AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Cullman 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 programs 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 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 verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Cullman AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Cullman AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Learn More About Enrolling in Nursing Colleges in Cullman

Choose the Best Alabama RN School

Choosing the ideal nursing program is potentially the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are various variables that you must think about when deciding on a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this post, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Cullman Alabama.


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