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How to Enroll In the Best Nursing School near Gadsden Alabama

Gadsden Alabama RN with physician and patientFinding the best nursing program near Gadsden AL may seem like a complex undertaking, particularly if you have no idea 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 to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and measure the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many future students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least costly program or the one that is closest to your home is probably not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are many important additional things to investigate before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at what the job of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree options that are available.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Gadsden Alabama RN talking to a nursing home patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Gadsden 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 specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

There is more than one degree option 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 earn a qualifying degree in just 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 offered in the Gadsden AL area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified 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 job market.
  • Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After 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) in order to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

LPN and LVN Training

Gadsden Alabama LVN holding door for man on crutchesThere are generally two academic credentials offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest period of time, normally about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma course. The second alternative is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and generally require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to supplying a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they provide 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 guarantees that the core curriculum properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Programs

In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA education can be received at Gadsden AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program 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 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 minimal amount of training directed and every state has its own prerequisites. So it's necessary to make sure that the 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 sure that the training course is state certified. 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 Courses

Gadsden Alabama RN assisting surgeon in operating roomEnrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more favored way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend classes for many Gadsden AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many 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 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

Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Gadsden AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares 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 make sure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Gadsden AL for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some 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 outstanding education, but also preps you to comply with 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 agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Gadsden 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 programs 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 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 Gadsden AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain 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 as well. Check if the schools have associations with Gadsden AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Learn More About Gadsden Nursing Online Programs

Enroll in the Best Gadsden Nursing College

Picking the right registered nursing college is arguably the most important phase to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous factors that you should consider when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have pointed out in this content, it is critical that you select an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create 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 ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Gadsden AL.



 

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