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How to Choose the Right RN Degree Program near Pinson Alabama

Pinson Alabama Nurse examining patient with stethoscopeSelecting the best nursing program near Pinson AL may feel like a complex project, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and measure the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your residence is most likely not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are many key additional considerations to explore before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Pinson Alabama nurse taking vital signs of senior woman

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Pinson AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Observing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing School Degree Options

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 receive a qualifying degree in as little as two 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 Pinson AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly 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 may 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 typically a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example 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. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Degrees

Pinson Alabama Nurse holding medical chartEnrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more popular way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend college for many Pinson AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an important part of a Pinson AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to many opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for several reasons, among the most notable are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly go into the profession out of a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the healthcare profession, rather than the analytical or research related elements, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work environments, including nursing homes, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specializations, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses deliver personal patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Courses

RN reading with Pinson Alabama assisted living patientNow that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Pinson AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate 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 organization. Aside from helping verify that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Pinson AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along 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 essential that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also readies you to meet 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 considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Pinson 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 dissatisfied 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 Pinson AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Pinson AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Online Nursing Schools in Pinson

Choose the Best Alabama RN School

Enrolling in the ideal nursing program is arguably the most important first step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are a number of factors that you need to consider when choosing a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted within this post, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist 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 drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Pinson Alabama.


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