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How to Pick an Accredited RN Degree Program near Gardendale Alabama

Gardendale Alabama RN checking patient with stethoscopeSearching for the right nursing school near Gardendale AL may feel like a formidable undertaking, particularly if you don't know 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 obtain the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their determination exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least costly school or the one that is closest to your residence is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are many key additional things to explore before you decide where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Gardendale Alabama RN reading blodd pressure of elderly female patient

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

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing 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 instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often 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 Degrees

There is more than one degree option offered 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 two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Gardendale AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 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 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 commonly 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, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Schools

Gardendale Alabama Nurse holding health fileAttending nursing programs online is becoming a more favored way to obtain training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend school for some Gardendale AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional 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. So if your work and family obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Enter the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an important component of a Gardendale AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, among the most notable are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a hospital or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often go into the profession out of a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic conditions. This human side of the health profession, rather than the research or analytical related facets, is appealing to many who elect to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although most nurses provide personal patient care, others opt to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

registered nurse reading with Gardendale Alabama assisted living patientNow that you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Gardendale AL or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping confirm that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Gardendale AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Gardendale 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 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Gardendale AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Gardendale AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Enrolling in Nursing Programs in Gardendale

Enroll in the Right Alabama RN Program

Selecting the ideal nursing college is perhaps the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are many variables that you need to take into account when picking a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have highlighted within this post, it is important that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop 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 dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Gardendale Alabama.


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