How to Choose the Right Nursing Program near Bessemer Alabama
Choosing the best nursing school near Bessemer AL may seem like a complicated undertaking, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your home is no doubt not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are many key additional considerations to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, as well as the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Bessemer AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping 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 normally 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.
There is more than one degree option offered 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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Bessemer AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want 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 typically a two 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 earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are basically two academic credentials offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be concluded in the shortest amount of time, generally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The next choice is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to supplying a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you pursue, 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 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 some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at Bessemer AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to receive at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum amount of instruction required and each state has its own requirements. So it's essential to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but additionally those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course is state approved. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional requirements as well.
Online Nursing Classes
Attending nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend school for many Bessemer AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even supplemental 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 like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and family commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Bessemer AL or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see 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. Aside from helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Bessemer AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary 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 specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing standards 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 agencies for their reviews also. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Bessemer 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 colleges 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Bessemer AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Bessemer AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Bessemer Nursing Program
Picking the ideal registered nursing school is arguably the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are numerous factors that you must consider when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this content, it is important that you pick an RN school 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 create a short list 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 ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Bessemer AL.