How to Pick the Best RN Degree Program near Fairfield Alabama
Finding the best nursing college near Fairfield AL may seem like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and assess the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional things to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree alternatives that are available as well as what the roles of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as Fairfield AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating 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 often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing School Degrees
There are several degree options available to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Fairfield 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 including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally 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 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.
Once a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more favored way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for many Fairfield AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, 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. And so if your work and household obligations have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Why Choose the Nursing Profession?Nurses are an indispensable component of a Fairfield AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to many opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, among the most meaningful are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals 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 instances of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This humanistic aspect of the health profession, rather than the research or analytical related aspects, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, such as home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specializations, such as addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses deliver primary patient care, others opt to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Fairfield AL or online, you can use the following pointers 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 essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping confirm that you get a quality education, it may help in securing 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 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 completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Fairfield 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 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 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 verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Fairfield AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Fairfield AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Best Alabama RN School
Selecting the ideal nursing school is perhaps the most important first step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are a number of factors that you should consider when deciding on a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this article, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Fairfield Alabama.