How to Select the Best Nursing Program near Meridianville Alabama
Choosing the right nursing program near Meridianville AL may feel like a complicated undertaking, especially if you aren't sure 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 obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive school or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are various important additional things to check out before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover what the job of a registered nurse is in our health system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Meridianville AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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 common illnesses or injuries.
There is more than one degree option offered 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 as little as two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Meridianville AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are basically two scholastic accreditations available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be concluded in the shortest amount of time, commonly about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma program. The second option is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and generally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, besides 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 seek, it needs to 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 course of study 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 need to attain a college degree. CNA education can be received at Meridianville AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of training directed and that each state has its own prerequisites. So it's crucial to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but also those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training course is state approved. As well as the training, each state requires 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 schools online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend college for many Meridianville AL students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. 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 obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing program to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Meridianville AL or online, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you probably 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 select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the field.
- 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 ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Meridianville 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. 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 call some Meridianville AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their opinions 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Meridianville AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with Meridianville AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Pick the Right Meridianville Nursing Program
Choosing the right registered nursing school is potentially the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are various factors that you must consider when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed within 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 using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list 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 ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Meridianville AL.