How to Enroll In a Nursing Program near Decatur Alabama
Selecting the right nursing college near Decatur AL may feel like a complicated undertaking, especially if you aren’t sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least costly college or the one that is local to your home is no doubt not the most reliable way to choose a nursing school. There are various key additional things to investigate before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let’s first review what the job of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different Decatur AL medical settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing 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 high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master’s Degree and often 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.
There are multiple degrees available to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Decatur AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program offered by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a higher 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 Alabama 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 wish 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 generally a two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don’t forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Classes
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more favored way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part 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 alternative may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend classes for some Decatur AL students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. 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 work and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges in the Decatur AL area and throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the field.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping verify that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans in Decatur AL, which are oftentimes not provided 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) along with 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 imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, contact the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Decatur 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 considering 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 favorable reputation within the Decatur AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Looking at Nursing Schools near Decatur AL?
Decatur is a city in Morgan and Limestone counties in the State of Alabama. The city, affectionately known as "The River City", is located in Northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River. It is the largest city and county seat of Morgan County. The population in 2010 was 55,683.
Decatur is also the core city of the two-county large Decatur, Alabama metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 153,374 in 2013. Combined with the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the two create the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, of which Decatur is the second largest city.
Like many southern cities in the early 19th century, Decatur's early success was based upon its location along a river. Railroad routes and boating traffic pushed the city to the front of North Alabama's economic atmosphere. The city rapidly grew into a large economic center within the Tennessee Valley and was a hub for travelers and cargo between Nashville and Mobile, as well as Chattanooga and New Orleans. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced steady growth, but was eclipsed as the regional economic center by the fast-growing Huntsville during the space race. The city now finds its economy heavily based on manufacturing, cargo transit, and hi-tech industries such as General Electric, and the United Launch Alliance.
Enroll in the Right RN Course near Decatur AL
Selecting the right registered nursing degree program is arguably the most critical first step to launching a new career in the health care field. There are many aspects that you should think about when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have stressed within this article, it is important that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Decatur AL.
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