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How to Find an Accredited RN School near Opelika Alabama

Opelika Alabama RN examining man with stethoscopeSearching for the best nursing school near Opelika AL may seem like a difficult project, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least expensive college or the one that is local to your house is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are various key additional things to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree choices that are available along with what the roles of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Opelika Alabama nurse taking vital signs of senior woman

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Opelika AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing 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), as an 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 Degrees Available

There is more than one degree option offered to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Opelika AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want to progress 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 commonly a 2 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.

Once a graduating student has received 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. Further requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Programs

Opelika Alabama RN holding health chartAttending nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend school for some Opelika AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. 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 job and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an essential component of a Opelika AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to many opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, the most notable are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often go into the profession out of a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This humanistic aspect of the healthcare profession, rather than the research or analytical related aspects, is attractive to many who choose to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from a number of work environments, including home care facilities, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses deliver primary patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Colleges

RN reading with Opelika Alabama assisted living patientNow that you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Opelika AL or online, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other programs.

  • 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. Aside from helping verify that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing 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 prerequisites for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed 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 performed, 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 comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Opelika 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 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 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 favorable reputation within the Opelika AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Opelika AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Online Nursing Degree Programs in Opelika

Choose the Best Alabama RN Program

Choosing the right nursing program is probably the most critical step to starting a new career in the healthcare field. There are various variables that you should think about when choosing a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have highlighted within this content, it is important that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Opelika Alabama.


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