How to Select the Right Nursing School near Atmore Alabama
Finding the right nursing school near Atmore AL may feel like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and measure the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least expensive school or the one that is local to your house is no doubt not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are various important additional factors to look into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, as well as the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Atmore AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing 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 advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options available to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Atmore AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a two year program after receiving 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) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Certificates and Degrees
There are generally two academic accreditations offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest time frame, normally about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma program. The next option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, along with offering a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you seek, it needs to be Alabama approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the core curriculum effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA education can be received at Atmore AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from just one to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction directed and that each state has its specific requirements. So it's necessary to make sure that the course you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training is state certified. As well as the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Classes
Attending nursing programs online is becoming a more preferred way to receive training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend college for some Atmore AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. 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. So if your work and family obligations have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Atmore AL or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors 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 pick 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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Atmore AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Atmore 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 colleges 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 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 substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Atmore AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Atmore AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right Atmore Nursing College
Choosing the ideal registered nursing college is potentially the most important step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous factors that you must take into account when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this content, it is critical that you choose an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By using 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 appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Atmore AL.