How to Select the Best Nursing Program near Fort Payne Alabama
Finding the right nursing college near Fort Payne AL may seem like a challenging undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house is most likely not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are many crucial additional considerations to check into before you determine 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 medical care system, together with the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as Fort Payne AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to support 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. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing 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 generally 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 is more than one degree option to choose from 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 just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Fort Payne AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a four 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 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 commonly a two 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 obtained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Training
There are generally two scholastic accreditations offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest amount of time, normally about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The other alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and commonly require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from 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 any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the course of study adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA education can be received at Fort Payne AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from one to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of training required and that every state has its specific requirements. So it's necessary 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 recommendation is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training is state approved. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be additional requirements as well.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more in demand way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend college for many Fort Payne AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, 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. Therefore if your work and family obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Fort Payne AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. 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 decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection 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. Besides helping verify that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Fort Payne 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with 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 exceptional education, but also prepares 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 evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Fort Payne 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 verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Fort Payne AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Fort Payne AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Fort Payne Nursing College
Enrolling in the ideal registered nursing degree program is probably the most important first step to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous aspects that you need to think about when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed in this post, it is critical that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list 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 dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Fort Payne AL.