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How to Select the Best Nursing Degree Program near Fairfield Alabama

Fairfield Alabama nurse with physician and patientChoosing the right nursing school near Fairfield AL may seem like a formidable project, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least expensive college or the one that is local to your home is probably not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are many important additional considerations to investigate before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Fairfield Alabama RN talking to a nursing home patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Fairfield AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Maintaining 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 administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

There are several degree options offered to become a registered nurse. And 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 earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Fairfield AL area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally 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 may wish to progress 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 2 year program after achieving 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 attained 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 vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

LPN Courses

Fairfield Alabama LPN greeting man using crutchesThere are generally two academic credentials offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be finished in the shortest time frame, normally about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma program. The 2nd alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and commonly require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, aside from providing a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you pursue, it needs to 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 course of study properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Courses

Unlike some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Fairfield AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training can take anywhere from just one to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required 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 minimal amount of instruction required and every state has its specific prerequisites. So it's essential to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training course is state certified. As well as the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional prerequisites as well.

Online Nursing Classes

Fairfield Alabama nurse assisting surgeon with operationAttending nursing colleges online is becoming a more preferred way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend school for many Fairfield AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Colleges

Once you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Fairfield AL or online, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the field.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping verify that you receive a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Fairfield AL for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed 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 performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Fairfield 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 looking at 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Fairfield 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 obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Fairfield AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Find Out More About Fairfield Nursing Degree Programs

Choose the Right Fairfield Nursing College

Picking the ideal registered nursing school is arguably the most critical step to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of factors that you need to consider when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have emphasized within this post, it is important that you select an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Fairfield AL.



 

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