How to Select the Best RN Training Program near Lincoln Alabama
Selecting the best nursing program near Lincoln AL may seem like a complex undertaking, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many future students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least costly school or the one that is local to your home is no doubt not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many important additional aspects to investigate before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree choices that are offered together with what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Lincoln AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for 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 basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing College Degrees Available
There are several degree options offered 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 earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Lincoln AL area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 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 normally a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides 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, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Schools
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more popular way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend school for some Lincoln AL students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary 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. So if your work and family obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Why Nursing?Nurses are an indispensable component of a Lincoln AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, the most significant are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many 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 administer to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This human side of the health profession, rather than the research or analytical related elements, is attractive to many who decide to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number of work settings, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses provide direct patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Lincoln AL or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within 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 already mentioned, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably 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 final choice, 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific 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 practicing.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out 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 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Lincoln AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Lincoln AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Best Alabama RN School
Choosing the right nursing program is arguably the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are many variables that you need to take into account when choosing a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have highlighted in this post, it is essential that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Lincoln Alabama.