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How to Select the Right RN Course near Jacksonville Alabama

Jacksonville Alabama RN checking patient with stethoscopeFinding the best nursing program near Jacksonville AL may feel like a complicated endeavor, especially 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 receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many future students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your house is no doubt not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are several key additional things to check out before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree options that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Jacksonville Alabama nurse reading vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Jacksonville AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Conducting 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 more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing College Degree Options

There are multiple degrees 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 earn a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Jacksonville AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their previous 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 generally 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.

After 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) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Degrees

Jacksonville Alabama RN holding medical chartEnrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more preferred way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend school for some Jacksonville AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many 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 obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Choose the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an essential part of a Jacksonville AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, among the most meaningful are its personal and practical rewards. 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 physicians. Nurses often 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 extended care of chronic conditions. This humanistic side of the medical profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related elements, is appealing to many who decide to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work settings, including nursing homes, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses provide direct patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Courses

RN interacting with Jacksonville Alabama nursing home patientNow that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Jacksonville AL or online, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your selection 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. Aside from helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Jacksonville AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Jacksonville 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 colleges 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Jacksonville AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Jacksonville AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Find Out More About Online Nursing Degree Programs in Jacksonville

Choose the Right Alabama RN School

Enrolling in the ideal nursing program is probably the most important step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are many variables that you need to consider when selecting a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have highlighted within this content, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Jacksonville Alabama.


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