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How to Enroll In the Right Nursing Course near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama RN examining patient with stethoscopeFinding the best nursing program near Northport AL may seem like a complex project, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your residence is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are many key additional things to look into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Northport Alabama nurse reading vital signs of elderly female patient

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Northport AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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 is more than one degree option available 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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Northport AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers 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 comprehensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 commonly a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Degrees

Northport Alabama Nurse holding medical chartAttending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more favored way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend college for some Northport AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an integral component of a Northport AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to many opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, the most significant are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a hospital or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses commonly choose the profession due to a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This humanistic side of the health profession, rather than the research or analytical related aspects, is appealing to many who decide to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number of work settings, such as home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, including addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses deliver personal patient care, others choose to be educators, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Courses

RN reading with Northport Alabama nursing home patientOnce you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Northport AL or on the web, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other programs.

  • 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Northport 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. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Northport 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 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Northport AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best 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. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Northport AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Find Out More About Enrolling in Nursing Training in Northport

Enroll in the Right Alabama RN Program

Enrolling in the ideal nursing degree program is arguably the most crucial step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are many aspects that you need to take into account when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed in this post, it is essential 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 produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Northport Alabama.


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