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How to Find the Right RN Program near Prichard Alabama

Prichard Alabama Nurse examining patient with stethoscopeSelecting the best nursing school near Prichard AL may seem like a challenging endeavor, particularly 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 obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many future students base their determination entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least expensive college or the one that is local to your residence is no doubt not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are various crucial additional considerations to explore before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Prichard Alabama RN reading vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Prichard AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing College Degrees

There are several degree options to choose from 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 just two years, or continue on to earn 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 Prichard AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish 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 achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example 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) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Degrees

Prichard Alabama Nurse holding health chartEnrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more favored way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend school for some Prichard AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and household responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Nursing?

Nurses are an integral part of a Prichard AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, the most notable are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a hospital or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses frequently choose the profession out of a desire to tend 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, as opposed to the analytical or research related aspects, is appealing to many who choose to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a variety of work settings, including nursing homes, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses provide personal patient care, others opt to be educators, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Nurse reading with Prichard Alabama assisted living patientNow that you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Prichard AL or on the web, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other programs.

  • 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. Besides helping verify that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Prichard AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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) together with 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 imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. In addition, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Prichard 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased 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 good reputation within the Prichard AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Prichard AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Learn More About Online Nursing Programs in Prichard

Enroll in the Right Alabama RN School

Picking the right nursing degree program is arguably the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous factors that you must consider when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have highlighted in this article, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Prichard Alabama.


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