How to Pick the Best Nursing School near Lincoln Alabama
Selecting the best nursing school near Lincoln AL may seem like a complex project, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and measure the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many future students base their determination entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least costly college or the one that is local to your residence is undoubtedly not the best way to select a nursing program. There are various important additional considerations to look into 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 available along with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as Lincoln AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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 several degree options available to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to earn 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 Lincoln AL area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 commonly a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has obtained 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. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Lincoln AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, 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 responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Why Choose Nursing as a Career?Nurses are an indispensable component of a Lincoln 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 many reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a medical facility or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly go into the profession out of a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This humanistic aspect of the medical profession, as opposed to the analytical or research related aspects, is appealing to many who elect to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work settings, such as nursing homes, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses provide direct patient care, others opt to be educators, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Courses
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Lincoln AL or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of 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 workable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other programs.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping confirm that you obtain a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Lincoln AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Lincoln 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 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Lincoln AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire 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 prerequisites for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Lincoln AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Alabama RN School
Choosing the right nursing college is arguably the most crucial phase to starting a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of aspects that you need to consider when choosing a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have highlighted in this post, it is critical that you select a nursing college 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 develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Lincoln Alabama.