How to Enroll In the Best Nursing School near Dothan Alabama
Selecting the best nursing school near Dothan AL may feel like a complicated project, especially 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 need to receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least costly school or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are many important additional factors to check out before you determine where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Dothan AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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 offered to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Dothan AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous 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. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus 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) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Courses
There are principally two scholastic credentials available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be concluded in the shortest time period, commonly about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The other option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to supplying a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you pursue, it should be Alabama approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the core curriculum properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA education can be obtained at Dothan AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from one to 3 months, leading to 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 must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum amount of instruction directed and every state has its specific prerequisites. So it's necessary to make sure that the program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but also those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course is state approved. As well as the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be additional prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Schools
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend classes for some Dothan AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and household obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Dothan AL or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other schools.
- 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 a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided in Dothan AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary 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. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Dothan AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Dothan AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective 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 requirements for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Dothan AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Dothan Nursing Program
Enrolling in the right registered nursing program is arguably the most critical phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are many variables that you must consider when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this article, it is essential that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list 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 RN in Dothan AL.