How to Choose the Best Nursing College near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Choosing the best nursing program near Muscle Shoals AL may seem like a complicated project, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your residence is no doubt not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are various important additional factors to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, together with the nursing degree options that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, including Muscle Shoals AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating 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), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and often 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 to choose from to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain 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 Muscle Shoals AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four 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 may want 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 generally a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate 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) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Courses
There are principally two academic accreditations available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be finished in the shortest time frame, usually about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The next alternative is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and normally require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides offering a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you pursue, it should 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 syllabus effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Muscle Shoals AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from just one to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain 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 minimum period of training mandated and each state has its own requirements. So it's essential to make certain that the course you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but additionally 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. As well as 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.
Nursing Online Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend college for many Muscle Shoals AL students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and family obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Muscle Shoals AL or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, 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 recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping ensure that you receive a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided in Muscle Shoals 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) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, 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 readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Muscle Shoals AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgments 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the Muscle Shoals AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with Muscle Shoals AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Muscle Shoals Nursing College
Deciding on the right registered nursing college is perhaps the most important phase to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are a number of aspects that you need to take into account when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have emphasized within this post, it is important that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to select 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 nurse in Muscle Shoals AL.