How to Pick the Right Nursing School near Saraland Alabama
Searching for the best nursing college near Saraland AL may feel like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many future students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your residence is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many crucial additional things to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first go over what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree options that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Saraland AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing 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), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Saraland AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous 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 generally a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are principally two scholastic 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, usually about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma course. The second choice is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and usually require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with supplying a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they furnish 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 warrants that the course of study properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA education can be obtained at Saraland AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to receive 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 minimal amount of instruction mandated and each state has its own prerequisites. So it's necessary to make certain that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training course is state certified. In addition to 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.
Nursing Online Classes
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more popular way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend classes for some Saraland AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and household commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Saraland AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final 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 as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping verify that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Saraland AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out 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 opinions are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN colleges 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Saraland AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire 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. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Saraland AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Saraland Nursing Program
Enrolling in the ideal registered nursing school is potentially the most crucial phase to starting a new career in the health care field. There are numerous factors that you need to think about when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this post, it is critical that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Saraland AL.