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How to Choose the Right Nursing Program near Smiths Station Alabama

Smiths Station Alabama nurse with physician and patientLocating the right nursing college near Smiths Station AL may seem like a difficult undertaking, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many key additional factors to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree options that are available.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Smiths Station Alabama nurse taking care of a nursing home patient

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Smiths Station AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering 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 more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

There are several degree options offered to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Smiths Station AL area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a four 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 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 usually 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.

Once a graduating student has acquired 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. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

LPN and LVN Programs

Smiths Station Alabama LVN greeting man using crutchesThere are essentially two academic accreditations offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be finished in the shortest time period, generally about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The second choice is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and usually require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, along with offering a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you pursue, it needs to be Alabama approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the core curriculum properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Programs

Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Smiths Station AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from one to three 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 instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of training required and that every state has its own prerequisites. 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 get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the education is state certified. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be other prerequisites as well.

Online Nursing Courses

Smiths Station Alabama nurse assisting surgeon in operating roomEnrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more popular way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specified 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 answer to finding the free time to attend classes for many Smiths Station AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. 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 commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Schools

Once you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Smiths Station AL or online, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, 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 recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Smiths Station AL for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Smiths Station 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Smiths Station AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Smiths Station AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Learn More About Smiths Station Nursing Accelerated Programs

Pick the Best Smiths Station Nursing College

Choosing the right registered nursing degree program is probably the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are a number of variables that you should take into account when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this post, it is critical that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list 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 desire to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Smiths Station AL.



 

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