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How to Select the Best RN Program near Roanoke Alabama

Roanoke Alabama Nurse examining patient with stethoscopeSelecting the best nursing college near Roanoke AL may seem like a formidable undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house is most likely not the best way to select a nursing program. There are several important additional considerations to check out before you decide where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the functions of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Roanoke Alabama RN reading blodd pressure of elderly female patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Roanoke AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing School Degrees Available

There are multiple degrees offered 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 just 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Roanoke AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive 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 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 commonly a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Classes

Roanoke Alabama Nurse holding medical chartAttending nursing schools online is becoming a more in demand way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend classes for some Roanoke AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and household commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an integral part of a Roanoke AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to many opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, the most notable are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often choose the profession due to a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human side of the health profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related facets, is appealing to many who choose to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a number of work settings, including nursing homes, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specialties, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although many nurses deliver primary patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Colleges

registered nurse reading with Roanoke Alabama assisted living patientOnce you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Roanoke AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up 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 agency. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Roanoke 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Roanoke 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 considering 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the Roanoke AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Roanoke AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Enrolling in Nursing Degree Programs in Roanoke

Choose the Right Alabama RN Program

Choosing the ideal nursing college is probably the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are many factors that you should consider when choosing a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have highlighted in this content, it is essential that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist 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 Roanoke Alabama.


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