How to Enroll In the Best Nursing School near Leeds Alabama
Finding the best nursing program near Leeds AL may seem like a difficult 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 need to acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your house is most likely not the best way to select a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional considerations to check out before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first go over what the role of a registered nurse is in our health system, along with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as Leeds AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to aid 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 along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced 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 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 earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Leeds AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program offered 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 later achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically 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 might wish 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 commonly a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
There are basically two academic credentials available that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest time period, usually about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The other option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and commonly require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to supplying a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind 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 attests that the core curriculum adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most 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 received at Leeds AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to receive at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction directed and that each state has its specific requirements. So it's necessary to make sure that the course you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but also those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain 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 can be additional requirements as well.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more in demand way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend school for some Leeds AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like 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 easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Leeds AL or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout 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 earlier discussed, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are most likely 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 final choice, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Leeds AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary 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. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- 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 too. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Leeds 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 unhappy 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 Leeds AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts 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 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. Find out if the schools have associations with Leeds AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Pick the Best Leeds Nursing School
Selecting the ideal registered nursing program is probably the most important first step to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous aspects that you must think about when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have highlighted within this post, it is critical that you pick an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Leeds AL.