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How to Select an Accredited RN College near Ozark Alabama

Ozark Alabama RN checking patient with stethoscopeSearching for the right nursing school near Ozark 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, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and measure the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their selection solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive program or the one that is local to your residence is most likely not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are several crucial additional considerations to investigate before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are available as well as what the roles of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Ozark Alabama RN reading vital signs of senior female patient

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Ozark AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Maintaining 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 basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing College Degrees

There are several degree options available 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 earn a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Ozark AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four 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 want 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 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

After 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) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Schools

Ozark Alabama RN holding medical chartEnrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend school for some Ozark AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, 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. So if your job and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an important part of a Ozark 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 enter the profession for several reasons, the most notable are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a medical facility or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently choose the profession out of a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic conditions. This human side of the healthcare profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related aspects, is attractive to many who decide to enter into 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, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specializations, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses deliver personal patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Colleges

RN reading with Ozark Alabama nursing home patientOnce you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Ozark AL or on the web, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate 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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping verify that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Ozark AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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 performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in 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 practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Ozark 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 schools you are considering 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Ozark AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire 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 mandates for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Ozark AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Enrolling in Nursing Classes in Ozark

Choose the Best Alabama RN Program

Enrolling in the right nursing program is perhaps the most important step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are many variables that you must consider when deciding on a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this content, it is critical that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Ozark Alabama.


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