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How to Select an Accredited Nursing Course near Fairhope Alabama

Fairhope Alabama Nurse checking patient with stethoscopeChoosing the right nursing program near Fairhope AL may feel like a complicated 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 acquire the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive program or the one that is local to your home is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are various key additional considerations to investigate before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are available as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Fairhope Alabama nurse taking vital signs of senior woman

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Fairhope AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level 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 obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Fairhope AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want 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 generally a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Classes

Fairhope Alabama Nurse holding health chartAttending nursing colleges online is becoming a more favored way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend school for some Fairhope AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and family commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Nursing?

Nurses are an integral part of a Fairhope AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for several reasons, the most meaningful are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a hospital or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently choose the profession out of a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This humanistic aspect of the health profession, rather than the analytical or research related aspects, is attractive to many who choose to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose 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 specialties, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses deliver primary patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Programs

RN interacting with Fairhope Alabama assisted living patientOnce you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Fairhope AL or online, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your pick compares 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 agency. Aside from helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Fairhope 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along 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 enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Fairhope 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 colleges 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Fairhope AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Fairhope AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Find Out More About Enrolling in Nursing Classes in Fairhope

Enroll in the Right Alabama RN Program

Picking the ideal nursing program is arguably the most important step to starting a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of aspects that you should consider when choosing a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have highlighted within this article, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to pick 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 Fairhope Alabama.


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