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How to Pick the Right RN Degree Program near Gadsden Alabama

Gadsden Alabama RN checking patient with stethoscopeSearching for the best nursing school near Gadsden AL may feel like a difficult undertaking, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is closest to your residence is no doubt not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are various essential additional factors to look into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are available as well as what the roles of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Gadsden Alabama RN reading blodd pressure of elderly female patient

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Gadsden AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Managing 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 complex 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 deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing College Degree Options

There are multiple degrees offered to become a nurse. And 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 2 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 available to aspiring students in the Gadsden AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire 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 typically a two year program after attaining 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 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 can vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Programs

Gadsden Alabama RN holding health chartAttending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for some Gadsden AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that 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 important component of a Gadsden AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for many reasons, among the most notable are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses commonly 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 prolonged care of chronic ailments. This human side of the healthcare profession, rather than the analytical or research related aspects, is attractive to many who elect to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work environments, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specialties, including addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although many nurses deliver personal patient care, others opt to be educators, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Schools

Nurse reading with Gadsden Alabama nursing home patientOnce you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Gadsden AL or on the internet, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares 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. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently 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 prerequisites for registered nurses are different 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 specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only delivers a top-notch education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Gadsden 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 programs you are looking at 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 good reputation within the Gadsden AL healthcare 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. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Gadsden AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Learn More About Enrolling in Nursing Degree Programs in Gadsden

Choose the Right Alabama RN Program

Choosing the right nursing program is probably the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of factors that you must take into account when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have highlighted in this post, it is important that you choose a nursing college 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 produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Gadsden Alabama.


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