How to Pick the Best Nursing Course near Montgomery Alabama
Searching for the best nursing program near Montgomery AL may seem like a difficult undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their determination entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are several essential additional considerations to investigate before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at what the job of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Montgomery AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees to choose from 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 advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Montgomery AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position 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) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly 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 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 commonly a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
There are generally two scholastic credentials available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be concluded in the shortest amount of time, usually about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma course. The second option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, along with 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 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 syllabus adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at Montgomery AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from just one 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 training, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal amount of training mandated and that every state has its specific requirements. So it's crucial to make certain that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but additionally 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 certain that the training is state approved. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be additional prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend classes for many Montgomery AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of 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 obligations have left you with very little 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.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Montgomery AL or on the web, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are probably going to be the first two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the other schools.
- 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. In addition to helping verify that you get a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided in Montgomery AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain 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 delivers an excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call 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 schools 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Montgomery AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Select the Right Montgomery Nursing Program
Enrolling in the ideal registered nursing college is arguably the most critical phase to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are many variables that you should take into account when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have pointed out in this article, it is essential that you select an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist 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 desire to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Montgomery AL.