How to Choose the Right Nursing School near Phenix City Alabama
Selecting the right nursing school near Phenix City AL may seem like a difficult endeavor, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and measure the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many key additional factors to look into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first cover what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, along with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, including Phenix City AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Phenix City AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish 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 typically a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has earned 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. Other requirements for licensing can 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 basically two scholastic credentials available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest time period, normally about one year, is the certificate or diploma course. The 2nd option is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and usually require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, along with providing a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you seek, it should be Alabama approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the course of study 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 other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be acquired at Phenix City 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. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of instruction mandated and that each state has its own requirements. So it's necessary to make sure that the course you enroll in not only fulfills 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 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 might be additional prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Degrees
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more popular way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend college for some Phenix City AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more 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. And so if your job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Phenix City AL or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin 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 essential to lower the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other programs.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Phenix City AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain 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 prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. 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 contact some Phenix City 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 programs you are looking at 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 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 Phenix City AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal 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 requirements for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Phenix City AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Best Phenix City Nursing College
Choosing the ideal registered nursing program is potentially the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of aspects that you must think about when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this post, it is essential that you pick an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Phenix City AL.