How to Enroll In the Right Nursing School near Pelham Alabama
Locating the best nursing school near Pelham AL may feel like a formidable undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are many crucial additional aspects to investigate before you decide where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at what the function of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including Pelham AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an 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 routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are several degree options available 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 as little as two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Pelham AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 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 use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 generally a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate 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) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Training
There are generally two academic accreditations available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be concluded in the shortest period of time, normally about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The next choice is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and usually require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more comprehensive training, 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 another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the syllabus effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most 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 training can be acquired at Pelham AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from 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 training, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of training mandated and that each state has its specific prerequisites. So it's crucial to make sure that the program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but also those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training is state certified. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional requirements as well.
Online Nursing Classes
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more favored way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many Pelham AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Pelham AL or online, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other programs.
- 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. Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Pelham AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary 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. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Pelham 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 looking at 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 substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Pelham AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Pelham AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Pick the Best Pelham Nursing School
Enrolling in the ideal registered nursing college is probably the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are many variables that you should think about when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed in this article, it is important that you pick an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Pelham AL.