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How to Pick the Best Nursing College near Fort Payne Alabama

Fort Payne Alabama Nurse examining patient with stethoscopeSelecting the right nursing program near Fort Payne AL may feel like a complex endeavor, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and measure the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least costly college or the one that is closest to your residence is probably not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are several essential additional things to explore before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are available together with what the functions of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Fort Payne Alabama nurse reading vital signs of elderly female patient

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Fort Payne AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing 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 higher degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an 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 Degree Options

There are multiple degrees to choose from 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 just 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Fort Payne AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive 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 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 employment market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is typically a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When 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) so as to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Programs

Fort Payne Alabama Nurse holding health fileEnrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more preferred way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed 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 some Fort Payne AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplementary 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 job and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an essential part of a Fort Payne AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, among the most meaningful are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a hospital or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly go into the profession due to a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic conditions. This humanistic aspect of the health profession, rather than the research or analytical related facets, is appealing to many who choose to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work settings, including home care facilities, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specializations, such as addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses deliver direct patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Colleges

Nurse reading with Fort Payne Alabama nursing home patientNow that you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Fort Payne AL or online, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up 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 recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Fort Payne AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary 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. 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 a top-notch education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. 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 Fort Payne 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 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 unhappy 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 favorable reputation within the Fort Payne AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective 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. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Fort Payne AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Find Out More About Enrolling in Nursing Programs in Fort Payne

Choose the Best Alabama RN School

Choosing the ideal nursing school is potentially the most critical step to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are numerous factors that you must consider when picking a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out within this article, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Fort Payne Alabama.


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