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How to Choose the Right Nursing Program near Hamilton Alabama

Hamilton Alabama RN with doctor and patientFinding the right nursing school near Hamilton AL may seem like a formidable project, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least costly college or the one that is closest to your house is most likely not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are various crucial additional considerations to check into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first go over what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical system, as well as the nursing degree choices that are available.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Hamilton Alabama nurse talking to a nursing home patient

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Hamilton AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Keeping health records and charts

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

Nursing Degrees

There are several degree options offered 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 obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Hamilton AL area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire 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 generally a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When 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. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

LPN and LVN Programs

Hamilton Alabama LVN greeting patient using crutchesThere are principally two scholastic accreditations offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be concluded in the shortest amount of time, usually about one year, is the certificate or diploma course. The other alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and normally require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides offering a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter 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 most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Certificates

In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Hamilton AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training can take anywhere from just one to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under 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. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of training required and that each state has its specific requirements. So it's necessary to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion 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 requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other requirements as well.

Nursing Online Degrees

Hamilton Alabama nurse assisting surgeon in operating roomAttending nursing programs online is growing into a more popular way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend classes for some Hamilton AL students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of 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 very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Schools

Once you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Hamilton AL or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school and the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other programs.

  • 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 verify that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Hamilton AL for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required 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 imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Hamilton 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 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 verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Hamilton AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best 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 requirements for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Hamilton AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Hamilton Nursing Courses

Enroll in the Best Hamilton Nursing School

Choosing the ideal registered nursing school is perhaps the most important step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many variables that you must take into account when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have stressed within this content, it is important that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Hamilton AL.



 

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