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How to Find the Best Nursing Degree Program near Theodore Alabama

Theodore Alabama RN with physician and patientSelecting the right nursing college near Theodore AL may seem like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least costly college or the one that is local to your house is no doubt not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are several crucial additional considerations to explore before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, as well as the nursing degree choices that are offered.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Theodore Alabama RN talking to a senior patient

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, including Theodore AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Keeping 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 normally 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 is more than one degree option offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Theodore AL area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally 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 may want to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
  • Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When 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. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

LPN Programs

Theodore Alabama LVN greeting patient using crutchesThere are principally two academic credentials offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest time frame, typically about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The second alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with providing a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, it should be Alabama approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the course of study adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Diplomas

In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at Theodore 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 mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction directed and that every state has its own requirements. So it's essential to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but additionally 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 sure that the education is state approved. 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 Classes

Theodore Alabama RN assisting surgeon with operationAttending nursing schools online is becoming a more in demand way to receive training and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend college for some Theodore AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can 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. Therefore if your job and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Schools

Once you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Theodore AL or online, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other programs.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Theodore 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified 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 provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Theodore 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 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 substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Theodore AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Theodore AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn More About Theodore Nursing Colleges

Select the Best Theodore Nursing Program

Choosing the right registered nursing program is arguably the most critical phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are various variables that you should take into account when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have stressed in this content, it is important that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Theodore AL.



 

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