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How to Select an Accredited Nursing School near Opp Alabama

Opp Alabama Nurse checking patient with stethoscopeSelecting the best nursing program near Opp AL may seem like a complicated endeavor, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your home is most likely not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are many essential additional factors to explore before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree choices that are offered as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Opp Alabama nurse taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Opp AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex 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 School Degrees

There is more than one degree option available 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 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Opp AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally 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 later earn a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive 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 may want 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 two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

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

Nursing Online Programs

Opp Alabama RN holding medical fileAttending nursing colleges online is growing into a more popular way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend college for many Opp AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program 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 Opp AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to many opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for several reasons, the most significant are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a medical facility or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses commonly go into the profession due to a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic ailments. This humanistic side of the medical profession, rather than the analytical or research related aspects, is attractive to many who elect to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work environments, such as nursing homes, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specialties, such as addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although most nurses deliver direct patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Schools

RN interacting with Opp Alabama assisted living patientOnce you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Opp AL or online, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two points 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 evaluate how your pick measures up 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 recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Opp 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only delivers a top-notch education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Opp 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 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 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 Opp AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Opp AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Enrolling in Nursing Degree Programs in Opp

Choose the Right Alabama RN School

Selecting the ideal nursing program is perhaps the most crucial step to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are various factors that you should think about when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have emphasized within this content, it is important that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Opp Alabama.


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