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How to Select the Best RN College near Florence Alabama

Florence Alabama Nurse checking man with stethoscopeChoosing the best nursing school near Florence AL may seem like a challenging undertaking, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least costly program or the one that is closest to your residence is most likely not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of important additional considerations to explore before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree alternatives that are offered together with what the functions of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Florence Alabama nurse reading blodd pressure of senior woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Florence AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level 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 provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing College 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 enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can acquire a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Florence AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able 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 job market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

Once a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. 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 Schools

Florence Alabama RN holding medical fileAttending nursing colleges online is becoming a more favored way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend classes for many Florence AL students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. 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 little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an important component of a Florence AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for several reasons, the most significant are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often go into the profession due to 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 human aspect of the medical profession, rather than the research or analytical related elements, is attractive to many who choose to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work settings, including home care facilities, doctor'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. Although many nurses provide primary patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

RN reading with Florence Alabama assisted living patientOnce you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Florence AL or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you get a premium education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Florence 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain 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 exceptional education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Florence 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 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 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 confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Florence AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Florence AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Find Out More About Enrolling in Nursing Courses in Florence

Choose the Right Alabama RN School

Choosing the right nursing college is arguably the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the health care field. There are many factors that you should think about when deciding on a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed within this content, it is critical that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Florence Alabama.


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