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How to Find the Best RN Training Program near Muscle Shoals Alabama

Muscle Shoals Alabama Nurse examining man with stethoscopeSearching for the best nursing school near Muscle Shoals AL may seem like a complex endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least expensive program or the one that is local to your house is no doubt not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many crucial additional things to investigate before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are available along with what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Muscle Shoals Alabama RN reading vital signs of elderly female patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Muscle Shoals AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing 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), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing School Degrees Available

There are several degree options to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Muscle Shoals AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able 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 normally a 2 year program after receiving 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) in order to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Schools

Muscle Shoals Alabama Nurse holding medical fileEnrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more favored way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend school for many Muscle Shoals AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and family obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Nursing?

Nurses are an integral part of a Muscle Shoals AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to many opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, among the most notable are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a medical facility or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly go into the profession out of a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the health profession, rather than the analytical or research related aspects, is attractive to many who decide to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work environments, such as home care facilities, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although most nurses deliver primary patient care, others choose to be educators, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.

Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges

registered nurse interacting with Muscle Shoals Alabama assisted living patientOnce you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Muscle Shoals AL or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout 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 mentioned, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other schools.

  • 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping confirm that you receive a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Muscle Shoals AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites 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. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Muscle Shoals 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 schools 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 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 substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Muscle Shoals AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with Muscle Shoals AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Find Out More About Enrolling in Nursing Degree Programs in Muscle Shoals

Choose the Right Alabama RN School

Selecting the ideal nursing school is arguably the most important phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are various variables that you must consider when deciding on a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out in this article, it is essential that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create 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 ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Muscle Shoals Alabama.


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