How to Select the Right Nursing College near Gulf Shores Alabama
Choosing the right nursing program near Gulf Shores AL may seem like a complex undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many future students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is closest to your home is probably not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are various key additional considerations to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Gulf Shores AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating 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 advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for 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 basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
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 acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Gulf Shores AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive 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 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 receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
LVN and LPN Courses
There are basically two scholastic accreditations offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be finished in the shortest time period, normally about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The other option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and usually require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, besides offering a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they provide 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 some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants 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 earn a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at Gulf Shores AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training can take anywhere from one to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction directed and that every state has its specific requirements. So it's important to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but also those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training is state approved. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other requirements as well.
Nursing Online Courses
Enrolling in nursing schools online is growing into a more preferred way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend college for many Gulf Shores AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Schools
Once you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Gulf Shores AL or online, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are probably going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping confirm that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Gulf Shores AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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 specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Gulf Shores 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 considering 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Gulf Shores AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Gulf Shores AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Gulf Shores Nursing Degree Program
Selecting the ideal registered nursing degree program is perhaps the most critical first step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are numerous aspects that you must consider when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have stressed within this content, it is essential that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Gulf Shores AL.