How to Enroll In the Best Nursing Program near Greenville Alabama
Selecting the right nursing college near Greenville AL may feel like a complicated endeavor, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your home is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of important additional considerations to investigate before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Greenville AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
There are multiple degrees 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 obtain 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 short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Greenville AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want 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 two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has earned 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. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Training
There are principally two academic credentials available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest amount of time, commonly about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma program. The second option is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and commonly require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, along with offering a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, 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 another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests 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.
In contrast to some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA education can be obtained at Greenville AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training 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 required to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal period of training required and that each state has its own prerequisites. So it's important to make sure that the course 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 get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course is state certified. Along with 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.
Nursing Online Courses
Enrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more popular way to get training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend classes for many Greenville AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and family commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Greenville AL or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist 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 decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other schools.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping confirm that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Greenville 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to 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 a top-notch education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Greenville 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 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Greenville AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Greenville AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Right Greenville Nursing Degree Program
Deciding on the ideal registered nursing school is arguably the most crucial step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are many variables that you need to take into account when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have highlighted within this post, it is essential that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list 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 Greenville AL.