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How to Choose the Right Nursing Degree Program near Leeds Alabama

Leeds Alabama RN examining patient with stethoscopeLocating the best nursing program near Leeds AL may feel like a challenging undertaking, 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 need to obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least costly program or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are many key additional considerations to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree choices that are available as well as what the functions of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Leeds Alabama RN reading vital signs of senior woman

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Leeds AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Keeping health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for 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 to choose from 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 receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Leeds AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish 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 usually a 2 year program after achieving 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 obtained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Schools

Leeds Alabama Nurse holding medical chartEnrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more popular way to get training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating answer to finding the free time to attend classes for some Leeds AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous 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 household obligations have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Choose the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an integral part of a Leeds AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for many reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a hospital or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses frequently 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 long-term care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the medical profession, rather than the analytical or research related facets, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work settings, such as nursing homes, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specialties, such as addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses deliver direct patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Programs

Nurse interacting with Leeds Alabama nursing home patientOnce you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Leeds AL or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other programs.

  • 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 organization. Aside from helping confirm that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Leeds 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Leeds 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 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the Leeds AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Leeds AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Find Out More About Enrolling in Nursing Schools in Leeds

Enroll in the Best Alabama RN Program

Selecting the right nursing program is perhaps the most important first step to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous variables that you need to think about when picking a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have highlighted within this article, it is essential that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Leeds Alabama.


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