How to Enroll In the Right Nursing College near Hartselle Alabama
Finding the best nursing college near Hartselle AL may feel like a difficult endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and measure the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is local to your home is no doubt not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many important additional considerations to look into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree choices that are available as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as Hartselle AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing School Degrees Available
There are several degree options to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Hartselle AL area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn 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 eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want to progress 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 generally a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has earned 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. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Programs
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more favored way to obtain training and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend classes for many Hartselle AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Why Choose Nursing as a Career?Nurses are an integral component of a Hartselle AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for several 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 environment have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often go into the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This humanistic side of the medical profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related aspects, is appealing to many who decide to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work environments, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses deliver direct patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have selected which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Hartselle AL or online, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of 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 manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are probably going to be the primary two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares 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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping verify that you obtain a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Hartselle AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with 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 important that the school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Hartselle 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 colleges 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 dissatisfied 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 favorable reputation within the Hartselle AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Hartselle AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Alabama RN School
Choosing the right nursing college is probably the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are many aspects that you need to take into account when picking a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this content, it is critical that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Hartselle Alabama.