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How to Choose the Best Nursing Program near Cullman Alabama

Cullman Alabama Nurse checking man with stethoscopeLocating the right nursing school near Cullman AL may seem like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and measure the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of key additional considerations to look into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Cullman Alabama nurse reading blodd pressure of senior woman

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Cullman AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to assist doctors in the treatment 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:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

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

Nursing College Degrees

There is more than one degree option to choose from 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 receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries 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 medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive 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 might desire 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 commonly a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After 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) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Schools

Cullman Alabama RN holding medical chartEnrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend school for some Cullman AL students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, 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. So if your work and household obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an essential component of a Cullman AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for several reasons, among the most significant are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses commonly choose the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This human aspect of the health profession, as opposed to the analytical or research related facets, is attractive to many who decide to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number 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 specializations, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although most nurses deliver personal patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

Questions to Ask Nursing Schools

registered nurse interacting with Cullman Alabama nursing home patientOnce you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Cullman AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other schools.

  • 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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently 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 are different 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 specified 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 provides an excellent education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Cullman 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 schools 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 good reputation within the Cullman AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Cullman AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Learn More About Online Nursing Colleges in Cullman

Enroll in the Best Alabama RN College

Choosing the right nursing program is potentially the most important step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous factors that you need to take into account when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have highlighted within this article, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Cullman Alabama.


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