How to Select the Best RN Degree Program near Mountain Brook Alabama
Locating the best nursing program near Mountain Brook AL may feel like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least expensive program or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the best way to select a nursing program. There are several crucial additional aspects to look into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree alternatives that are available together with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Mountain Brook AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally 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 is more than one degree option available to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Mountain Brook AL area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally 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 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) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly 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 generally a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has attained 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 fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend college for some Mountain Brook AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Why Become a Nurse?Nurses are an important part of a Mountain Brook AL medical team, and for a 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 enter the profession for several reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical rewards. 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 frequently go into the profession due to a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This humanistic side of the healthcare profession, rather than the research or analytical related facets, is appealing to many who decide to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, including nursing homes, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specialties, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although most nurses deliver direct patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Mountain Brook AL or online, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the field.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping verify that you get an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Mountain Brook 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) in addition to 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 important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Mountain Brook 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 schools 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Mountain Brook AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain 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 specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Mountain Brook AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right Alabama RN School
Choosing the right nursing degree program is probably the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the health care field. There are a number of aspects that you need to think about when deciding on a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out in this post, it is important that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Mountain Brook Alabama.