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How to Pick the Best Nursing School near Saraland Alabama

Saraland Alabama RN with physician and patientLocating the right nursing school near Saraland AL may feel like a challenging project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and measure the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least costly school or the one that is local to your home is no doubt not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional aspects to explore before you make a decision 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, along with the nursing degree options that are offered.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Saraland Alabama RN talking to a senior patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Saraland AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing 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), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly 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 Degrees

There are multiple degrees available to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Saraland AL area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later obtain 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 previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish to advance 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 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

LPN and LVN Courses

Saraland Alabama LPN greeting patient on crutchesThere are essentially two academic accreditations offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest period of time, normally about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma course. The other choice is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and commonly require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to supplying a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type 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 core curriculum effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Programs

In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA training can be received at Saraland AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from 1 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 have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction mandated and each state has its specific prerequisites. So it's crucial to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but additionally 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. 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.

Nursing Online Degrees

Saraland Alabama nurse assisting surgeon with operationEnrolling in nursing schools online is growing into a more preferred way to obtain instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend college for many Saraland AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. 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 family commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Schools

Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Saraland AL or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other schools.

  • 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. In addition to helping make sure that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Saraland AL for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many 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 delivers a top-notch education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Saraland AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments 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 finish 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 superb reputation within the Saraland AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Saraland AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Saraland Nursing Degree Programs

Pick the Best Saraland Nursing College

Selecting the right registered nursing program is arguably the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many factors that you need to think about when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted within this post, it is essential that you select an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Saraland AL.



 

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