How to Choose the Right Nursing School near Attalla Alabama
Selecting the best nursing school near Attalla AL may feel like a formidable endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to look 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 to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your home is no doubt not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are several essential additional aspects to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss what the job of a registered nurse is in our health system, as well as the nursing degree options that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Attalla AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Attalla AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. 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 prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the job market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a 2 year program after receiving 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 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 fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
There are essentially two scholastic accreditations offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest time period, typically about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma course. The next choice is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and usually require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, aside from providing a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you seek, it should be Alabama approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the syllabus adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA instruction can be obtained at Attalla AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from 1 to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum amount of instruction required and each state has its specific prerequisites. So it's essential to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but additionally those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training course is state certified. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be other requirements as well.
Nursing Online Courses
Attending nursing programs online is becoming a more preferred way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Attalla AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Attalla AL or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping confirm that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Attalla AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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) 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 provides a top-notch education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Attalla 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied 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 superb reputation within the Attalla AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Attalla AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Pick the Right Attalla Nursing Degree Program
Choosing the ideal registered nursing school is probably the most critical step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous variables that you should consider when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have pointed out within this post, it is critical that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Attalla AL.