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How to Choose the Best Nursing College near Smiths Station Alabama

Smiths Station Alabama Nurse checking man with stethoscopeChoosing the best nursing school near Smiths Station AL may seem like a difficult project, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their determination exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least costly program or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are several key additional factors to check out before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree alternatives that are available along with what the roles of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Smiths Station Alabama RN taking blodd pressure of elderly female patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Smiths Station AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

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

Nursing School 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 just 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Smiths Station AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by community colleges. It preps 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 subsequently attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want to progress 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 generally a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

Once a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Programs

Smiths Station Alabama Nurse holding medical fileAttending nursing programs online is emerging as a more popular way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend college for many Smiths Station AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. 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 responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an indispensable component of a Smiths Station AL medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to many opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, among the most notable are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses frequently go into the profession out of a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This humanistic aspect of the health profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related facets, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work settings, such as home care facilities, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, including addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses provide primary patient care, others opt to be educators, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

registered nurse interacting with Smiths Station Alabama nursing home patientNow that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Smiths Station AL or on the web, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. 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 choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the first two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the field.

  • 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping verify that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently 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 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. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find 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 opinions 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 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the Smiths Station AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Smiths Station AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Learn More About Enrolling in Nursing Programs in Smiths Station

Enroll in the Best Alabama RN College

Picking the ideal nursing school is potentially the most crucial phase to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are numerous variables that you need to consider when picking a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have stressed in 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 medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Smiths Station Alabama.


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