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How to Enroll In an Accredited RN Degree Program near Leeds Alabama

Leeds Alabama RN examining patient with stethoscopeFinding the right nursing program near Leeds AL may seem like a formidable project, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you 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 evaluate the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many future students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least expensive program or the one that is local to your home is undoubtedly not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are various crucial additional factors to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree choices that are offered as well as what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Leeds Alabama RN taking vital signs of senior woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Leeds AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Keeping 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 administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing School Degrees Available

There is more than one degree option offered 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 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Leeds AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by community colleges. It preps 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 ultimately obtain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is normally a four 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 might 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 generally a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance 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) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Schools

Leeds Alabama RN holding health chartEnrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more popular way to receive training and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend school for many Leeds AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and household obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an important part of a Leeds 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 healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, among the most notable are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often choose the profession out of a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic ailments. This humanistic aspect of the medical profession, rather than the analytical or research related elements, is attractive to many who choose to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specializations, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although many nurses deliver direct patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

registered nurse reading with Leeds Alabama assisted living patientOnce you have decided on which nursing degree to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Leeds AL or online, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are probably going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the field.

  • 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping make sure that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Leeds 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine 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 programs you are looking at 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 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 superb reputation within the Leeds AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with Leeds AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Learn More About Online Nursing Classes in Leeds

Choose the Right Alabama RN Program

Enrolling in the right nursing college is potentially the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are many factors that you need to think about when deciding on a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have emphasized within this content, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Leeds Alabama.


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