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How to Pick the Right RN School near Gadsden Alabama

Gadsden Alabama RN examining patient with stethoscopeLocating the right nursing school near Gadsden AL may seem like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are several key additional factors to look into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree alternatives that are available as well as what the roles of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Gadsden Alabama RN reading blodd pressure of senior woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Gadsden AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Observing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

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

Nursing School Degree Options

There are multiple degrees 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 earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Gadsden AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 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 might 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 normally a two 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 received 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 be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Degrees

Gadsden Alabama RN holding medical fileAttending nursing colleges online is becoming a more favored way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend college for many Gadsden AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family responsibilities have left you with limited 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 hectic schedule.

Why Nursing?

Nurses are an essential part of a Gadsden AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to many opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, among the most notable are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a medical facility or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently go into the profession out of a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human side of the medical profession, as opposed to 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 an assortment of work environments, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While most nurses deliver personal patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

RN interacting with Gadsden Alabama nursing home patientNow that you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Gadsden AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt 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 so that you will have a workable list. As we already pointed out, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, 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 recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping confirm that you get a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Gadsden AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Gadsden 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 schools 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 confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Gadsden AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with Gadsden AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Enrolling in Nursing Courses in Gadsden

Enroll in the Best Alabama RN College

Selecting the right nursing degree program is arguably the most critical first step to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous variables that you need to consider when picking a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this content, it is critical that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Gadsden Alabama.


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