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How to Choose the Right RN Training Program near Opelika Alabama

Opelika Alabama Nurse checking man with stethoscopeLocating the best nursing college near Opelika AL may seem like a challenging endeavor, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house is undoubtedly not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are several crucial additional factors to investigate before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree options that are available along with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Opelika Alabama nurse taking vital signs of senior woman

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Opelika AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Keeping 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 commonly 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 Degrees

There are multiple degrees 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 receive a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Opelika AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire 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 generally 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 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 don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Degrees

Opelika Alabama RN holding medical chartEnrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more popular way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend college for some Opelika AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, 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 household obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an essential part of a Opelika AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, the most meaningful are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a hospital or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly go into the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic ailments. This humanistic side of the healthcare 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 choose from a variety of work settings, such as nursing homes, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although most nurses provide personal patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Schools

Nurse reading with Opelika Alabama assisted living patientOnce you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Opelika AL or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your selection 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 organization. Aside from helping make sure that you obtain a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Opelika AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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. Many 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 attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Opelika 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 looking at 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 favorable reputation within the Opelika AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Opelika AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Find Out More About Online Nursing Colleges in Opelika

Enroll in the Right Alabama RN Program

Choosing the ideal nursing program is perhaps the most important phase to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are a number of factors that you need to think about when choosing a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have stressed within this article, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Opelika Alabama.


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