How to Choose the Right Nursing School near Selma Alabama
Selecting the right nursing school near Selma AL may seem like a complicated endeavor, 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 acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and assess the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least costly program or the one that is closest to your residence is no doubt not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are several key additional considerations to check into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at what the job of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, together with the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely Selma AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, 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:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly 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 multiple degrees 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 as little as 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Selma AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive 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 prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire 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 normally 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.
When a graduating student has attained 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. Further 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 Certificates and Degrees
There are basically two academic accreditations available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest amount of time, normally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The second alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, aside from supplying a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, 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 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 some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA training can be obtained at Selma AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from one to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction mandated and each state has its specific requirements. So it's crucial to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but also those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain 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 can be other prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more popular way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend school for many Selma AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many 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 household commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Selma AL or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, 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 choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two things 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 evaluate how your pick compares to the field.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping confirm that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Selma 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some 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 enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Selma 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 schools you are considering 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Selma AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Selma AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Select the Best Selma Nursing School
Deciding on the right registered nursing degree program is perhaps the most important step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are various factors that you should think about when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have highlighted in this content, it is essential that you select an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical 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 appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Selma AL.