How to Pick a Nursing School in Northport Alabama
Choosing the best nursing program near Northport AL may feel like a challenging project, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your home is most likely not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are many key additional things to investigate before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let’s first review what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the Northport AL healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master’s Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services in Northport AL, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees offered to become a registered nurse in Northport AL. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at Alabama colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish 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 normally a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in Northport AL or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are basically two academic accreditations offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN in Northport AL. The one that can be finished in the shortest amount of time, commonly about one year, is the certificate or diploma course. The second alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and commonly require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to supplying a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you seek, it should 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 core curriculum effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Northport AL area. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from one to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum amount of instruction required and every state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s necessary to make sure that the program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to check with the health or nursing board for Alabama to make sure that the training is state approved. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other requirements as well.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree in Alabama. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online in your Northport AL home, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend college for some students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily 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 family commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nurse Schools
Once you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly 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 already discussed, the location of the school relative to Northport AL and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up 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 verify that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools near Northport AL.
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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the Northport AL area school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some nearby Northport AL healthcare organizations you’re interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgements are of the schools as well.
Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Northport AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all Northport AL area nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with nearby hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right RN Program near Northport AL
Enrolling in the right registered nursing program is potentially the most crucial first step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are many variables that you must think about when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this article, it is essential that you select an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop 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 hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Northport AL.
Why Did You Desire to Become an RN?When prepping to interview for a nursing job, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters often ask nursing candidates is "What made you select nursing as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a nurse, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to nursing, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must organize several strategies about how you want to respond to them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an outstanding nurse and the best candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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