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How to Select the Right RN College near Fairfield Alabama

Fairfield Alabama RN examining man with stethoscopeSearching for the right nursing college near Fairfield AL may feel like a complex project, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least expensive program or the one that is local to your home is no doubt not the best way to select a nursing program. There are various essential additional factors to look into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are available along with what the functions of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Fairfield Alabama nurse taking blodd pressure of senior female patient

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as Fairfield AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

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

Nursing School Degrees

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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Fairfield AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their previous 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 usually a 2 year program after acquiring 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 earned 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 change from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Degrees

Fairfield Alabama RN holding medical chartEnrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend college for some Fairfield AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Choose the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an important part of a Fairfield AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, the most meaningful are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses frequently choose the profession out of a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This human aspect of the health profession, rather than the analytical or research related facets, is attractive to many who decide to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work settings, including home care facilities, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although many nurses provide direct patient care, others elect to be educators, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.

Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

registered nurse reading with Fairfield Alabama assisted living patientNow that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Fairfield AL or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are probably going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, 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 as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping make sure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Fairfield AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Fairfield 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 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 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the Fairfield AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Fairfield AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Learn More About Enrolling in Nursing Degree Programs in Fairfield

Enroll in the Best Alabama RN School

Picking the right nursing college is potentially the most critical phase to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are many aspects that you need to consider when choosing a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this article, it is essential that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop 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 dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Fairfield Alabama.


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