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How to Find the Best Nursing Degree Program near Vestavia Hills Alabama

Vestavia Hills Alabama RN checking patient with stethoscopeSearching for the right nursing school near Vestavia Hills AL may feel like a difficult project, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive college or the one that is local to your home is no doubt not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are several important additional aspects to investigate before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Vestavia Hills Alabama RN taking vital signs of elderly female patient

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

Nurses with a higher 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 deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing College Degrees

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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Vestavia Hills AL area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 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 typically a two year program after receiving 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 obtained 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. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Classes

Vestavia Hills Alabama Nurse holding health chartEnrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more in demand way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical answer to finding the time to attend classes for some Vestavia Hills AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Choose Nursing as a Career?

Nurses are an important component of a Vestavia Hills AL medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for many reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a hospital or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently choose the profession due to a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This humanistic aspect 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 environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses provide direct patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges

Nurse interacting with Vestavia Hills Alabama assisted living patientNow that you have determined which nursing program to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Vestavia Hills AL or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the other programs.

  • 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping confirm that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Vestavia Hills 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 specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending 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. Visit online rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Vestavia Hills 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 schools you are considering 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Vestavia Hills AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships 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 environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Online Nursing Training in Vestavia Hills

Choose the Best Alabama RN School

Deciding on the ideal nursing degree program is perhaps the most critical step to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are numerous variables that you should consider when choosing a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out within this article, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Vestavia Hills Alabama.


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