How to Pick the Best Nursing Training near Montgomery Alabama
Locating the right nursing school near Montgomery AL may seem like a challenging project, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is local to your residence is undoubtedly not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are several key additional aspects to investigate before you decide 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 alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Montgomery AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. 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.
Nursing Degree Options
There are several degree options offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Montgomery AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 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 might 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 generally a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has attained 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. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
There are principally two scholastic accreditations offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be finished in the shortest time period, usually about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma course. The 2nd option is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides providing a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the kind 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 attests that the course of study properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA training can be received at Montgomery AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from just one to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within 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 training mandated and each state has its specific requirements. So it's essential to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but likewise 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 is state approved. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be other prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Courses
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more popular way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating answer to finding the free time to attend college for many Montgomery AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, 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. So if your job and household obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe 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 selected which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Montgomery AL or on the web, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Montgomery AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ 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. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Montgomery 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 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 good reputation within the Montgomery AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery Nursing College
Selecting the ideal registered nursing degree program is probably the most critical phase to starting a new career in the healthcare field. There are many factors that you need to consider when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have highlighted within this content, it is important that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Montgomery AL.