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How to Pick the Right RN Degree Program near Sylacauga Alabama

Sylacauga Alabama Nurse examining patient with stethoscopeChoosing the best nursing school near Sylacauga AL may feel like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least costly program or the one that is closest to your house is most likely not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional considerations to look into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree options that are available along with what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Sylacauga Alabama RN reading blodd pressure of senior female patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Sylacauga AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex 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 administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing School Degrees Available

There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to obtain 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 Sylacauga AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly 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 desire 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 generally a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has attained 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 vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Classes

Sylacauga Alabama Nurse holding health chartAttending nursing programs online is growing into 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 nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend college for some Sylacauga AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Choose the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an essential part of a Sylacauga AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to many opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, the most notable are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a hospital or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly 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, rather than the analytical or research related aspects, is appealing to many who elect to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work settings, including home care facilities, physician's offices, health 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 personal patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Programs

Nurse interacting with Sylacauga Alabama nursing home patientNow that you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Sylacauga AL or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the field.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping verify that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Sylacauga AL area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites 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 important that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Sylacauga 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Sylacauga AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Sylacauga AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Learn More About Enrolling in Nursing Classes in Sylacauga

Enroll in the Right Alabama RN Program

Selecting the ideal nursing college is potentially the most important first step to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are many aspects that you should consider when picking a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this article, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist 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 Sylacauga Alabama.


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