How to Choose the Right Nursing College near Homewood Alabama
Searching for the best nursing school near Homewood AL may seem like a formidable endeavor, especially if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least costly school or the one that is local to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are various key additional considerations to investigate before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Homewood AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Managing 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 typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
There is more than one degree option available 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 acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Homewood AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is typically a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has received 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 vary from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
LVN and LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are essentially two academic credentials available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest time frame, generally about one year, is the certificate or diploma course. The other choice is to obtain 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, aside from providing a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, 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 another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees 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.
Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA training can be received at Homewood AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from just one to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within 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. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of training required and each state has its own requirements. So it's essential to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only satisfies 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 certain that the training course is state approved. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be other requirements as well.
Nursing Online Classes
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more preferred way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend college for some Homewood AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous 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 household commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Homewood AL or on the web, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are probably going to be the first two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the other schools.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Homewood 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. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, 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 working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Homewood 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 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 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 Homewood AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Homewood AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Pick the Best Homewood Nursing Program
Enrolling in the right registered nursing college is probably the most important phase to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are many aspects that you must consider when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have highlighted in this article, it is critical that you select an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Homewood AL.