How to Pick the Best Nursing Program near Sylacauga Alabama
Locating the right nursing program near Sylacauga AL may feel like a difficult project, especially if you aren't sure what to look 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 critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your home is no doubt not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are several important additional factors to check into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at what the job of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Sylacauga AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically 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 enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Sylacauga AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want 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 usually a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Training
There are essentially two academic credentials available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be concluded in the shortest time period, generally about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma program. The next alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and generally require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from providing a higher credential and more extensive training, 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 some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests 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 some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Sylacauga AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program 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 training, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal period of training mandated and that every state has its own requirements. So it's important 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 tip is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain 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 can be additional requirements as well.
Nursing Online Degrees
Enrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more popular way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend school for some Sylacauga AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous 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 responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Sylacauga AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to see 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. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Sylacauga AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary 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. Some 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 excellent education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Sylacauga 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 programs 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 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 confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Sylacauga AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships 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 certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Sylacauga AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Right Sylacauga Nursing School
Enrolling in the ideal registered nursing college is perhaps the most crucial first step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are various factors that you must take into account when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have highlighted in this article, it is essential that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Sylacauga AL.