How to Find an Accredited RN Course near Northport Alabama
Choosing the best nursing school near Northport AL may feel like a complex endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many future students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive college or the one that is local to your house is most likely not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are several essential additional considerations to explore before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree choices that are available as well as what the roles of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Northport AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing 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 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 common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing School Degrees
There are several degree options to choose from 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 obtain 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 brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available 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 preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 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 might wish to advance 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 usually a two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has earned 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. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend college for some Northport AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily 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. And so if your job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Why Become a Nurse?Nurses are an essential component of a Northport AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to many opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, among the most notable are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients 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 passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This human side of the medical profession, as opposed to the analytical or research related facets, is appealing to many who decide to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work environments, such as home care facilities, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specialties, including addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses provide direct patient care, others opt to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Northport AL or online, you can use the following checklist to start 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 essential to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are probably going to be the primary two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other schools.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many Northport AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only delivers an outstanding education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, contact 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 assessments 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 finish 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 verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Northport AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Northport AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Alabama RN Program
Choosing the ideal nursing school is potentially the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many factors that you should take into account when picking a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have stressed within this article, it is critical that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care 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 drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Northport Alabama.