How to Pick the Right RN College near Gulf Shores Alabama
Searching for the best nursing college near Gulf Shores AL may feel like a complex endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least costly college or the one that is local to your home is undoubtedly not the best way to select a nursing program. There are many essential additional considerations to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Gulf Shores AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing School Degrees Available
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 earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Gulf Shores AL area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want to progress 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 attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has obtained 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. Further requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Degrees
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more favored way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for some Gulf Shores AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive 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 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 family commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Why Nursing?Nurses are an integral part of a Gulf Shores AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a hospital or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently go into the profession out of a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This humanistic side of the healthcare profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related facets, is appealing to many who choose to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses deliver personal patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Gulf Shores AL or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we already pointed out, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the field.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping verify that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Gulf Shores 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Gulf Shores 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Gulf Shores AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Gulf Shores AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Alabama RN Program
Deciding on the right nursing college is probably the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous aspects that you need to take into account when choosing a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist 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 proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Gulf Shores Alabama.