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How to Enroll In an Accredited RN Training Program near Helena Alabama

Helena Alabama Nurse checking man with stethoscopeSelecting the right nursing program near Helena AL may feel like a difficult undertaking, especially if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many future students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your house is probably not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are various important additional things to explore before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Helena Alabama RN reading vital signs of senior female patient

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as Helena AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and often 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 Degree Options

There is more than one degree option 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 obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Helena AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities 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) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able 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 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 generally a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, she or he 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 don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Programs

Helena Alabama Nurse holding medical fileEnrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more popular way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend school for many Helena AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily 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. Therefore if your job and family commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an integral part of a Helena AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to a number of opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for many reasons, the most significant are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often choose the profession due to a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This human aspect of the medical profession, rather than the research or analytical related aspects, is attractive to many who decide to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, including home care facilities, physician'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 most nurses deliver primary patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

RN reading with Helena Alabama assisted living patientOnce you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Helena AL or online, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably going to be the first two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other schools.

  • 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 frequently not available for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Helena 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) 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 important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Helena 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 programs you are considering what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Helena AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts 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 setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Helena AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Find Out More About Enrolling in Nursing Courses in Helena

Choose the Right Alabama RN College

Deciding on the ideal nursing college is probably the most important step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are many factors that you need to take into account when selecting a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have stressed within this content, it is essential that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Helena Alabama.


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