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How to Choose the Best RN School near Smiths Station Alabama

Smiths Station Alabama Nurse checking patient with stethoscopeFinding the right nursing program near Smiths Station AL may feel like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least costly school or the one that is closest to your house is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are several crucial additional factors to look into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree options that are available as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Smiths Station Alabama nurse reading blodd pressure of senior woman

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Smiths Station AL hospitals, family 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 exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and often 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 College Degrees Available

There are multiple degrees 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 advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Smiths Station 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 position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 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 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

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

Online Nursing Classes

Smiths Station Alabama Nurse holding health chartAttending nursing programs online is growing into a more in demand way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount 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 practical solution to finding the time to attend college for some Smiths Station AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and family obligations have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an important part of a Smiths Station AL medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, among the most meaningful are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a hospital or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with doctors. 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 prolonged care of chronic conditions. This humanistic side of the health profession, rather than the analytical or research related elements, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from a number of work settings, including nursing homes, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although most nurses deliver primary patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Nurse interacting with Smiths Station Alabama assisted living patientNow that you have determined which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Smiths Station AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt 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 to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your pick 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping verify that you get a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Smiths Station AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary 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. Some states require a specific 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 excellent education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Smiths Station 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 programs 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Smiths Station AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Smiths Station AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Find Out More About Online Nursing Classes in Smiths Station

Enroll in the Right Alabama RN Program

Selecting the right nursing school is arguably the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the health care field. There are a number of variables that you should take into account when picking a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this content, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Smiths Station Alabama.


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