How to Enroll In an Accredited Nursing Program near Oxford Alabama
Searching for the best nursing program near Oxford AL may feel like a complex project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least costly 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 several key additional considerations to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are available together with what the jobs 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 a large number of different medical settings, including Oxford AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing 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 example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing School Degree Options
There are multiple degrees offered to become a nurse. And in order 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 achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Oxford AL area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might 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 typically a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order 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 Schools
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more favored way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend college for some Oxford AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous 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 responsibilities have left you with very 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 Enter the Nursing Profession?Nurses are an important component of a Oxford AL medical team, and for a number of 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 notable are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often choose the profession out of a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic ailments. This human side of the health profession, rather than the research or analytical related aspects, is attractive to many who decide to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work settings, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although most nurses provide personal patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Oxford AL or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other schools.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Oxford AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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) as well as 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 essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Oxford 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 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Oxford AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with Oxford AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Alabama RN School
Selecting the ideal nursing program is arguably the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are a number of aspects that you need to take into account when deciding on a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this post, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Oxford Alabama.