How to Enroll In the Right Nursing Training near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Selecting the best nursing school near Vestavia Hills AL may seem like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your house is most likely not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are many important additional things to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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 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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 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 Vestavia Hills AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish 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 generally a two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once 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) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Certificates and Degrees
There are basically two scholastic accreditations available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be concluded in the shortest time frame, generally about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma program. The second choice is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and generally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, besides offering a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you seek, it should be Alabama approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the core curriculum 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 need to attain a college degree. CNA training can be obtained at Vestavia Hills 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. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of training directed and every state has its own prerequisites. So it's important to make sure that the program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training course is state approved. In addition to the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be other prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more preferred way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part 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 rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend classes for some Vestavia Hills AL students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. 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 family commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Schools
Once you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Vestavia Hills AL or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, 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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Vestavia Hills AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Vestavia Hills 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 programs 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Vestavia Hills AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Select the Right Vestavia Hills Nursing Program
Selecting the right registered nursing college is perhaps the most crucial phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of variables that you must take into account when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have highlighted within this content, it is important that you choose an RN school 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 produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Vestavia Hills AL.