Become a Nurse | Nursing Schools Altoona AL

How to Select a Nursing School near Altoona Alabama

Altoona AL pediatric nurse holding babyChoosing the best nursing program near Altoona AL may seem like a challenging undertaking, 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 need to obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive program or the one that is local to your home is probably not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of important additional factors to explore before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let’s first discuss what the function of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree choices that are offered.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Altoona AL Registered Nurse (RN)Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Altoona AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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

There is more than one degree option offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Altoona AL area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 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 usually a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.

LVN and LPN Certificates and Degrees

Altoona AL geriatric nurse with patientThere are basically two scholastic credentials available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be finished in the shortest amount of time, normally about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The other option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and usually require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you pursue, it needs to be Alabama approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the syllabus properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Training

In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA education can be obtained at Altoona AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training can take anywhere from 1 to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have 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 period of instruction required and every state has its specific requirements. So it’s essential to make certain that the program you enroll in not only fulfills 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 sure that the training course is state approved. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other requirements as well.

Online Nursing Classes

female student attending nursing school online in Altoona ALAttending nursing programs online is becoming a more popular way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend college for many Altoona AL students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Now that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Altoona AL or online, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, 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 select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other schools.

  • 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 obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Altoona AL for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Altoona 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 colleges you are looking at 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 displeased 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 Altoona AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts 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. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with Altoona AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Enrolling in a Nursing School near Altoona AL?

Perhaps you have already made your decision to attend a Nursing Program in the greater Altoona Alabama area.  If that is the case, then the following information may prove to be both educational and useful regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.

Altoona, Alabama

Altoona is a town in Etowah County (and a small portion of Blount County) in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is part of the Gadsden Metropolitan Statistical Area. At the 2010 census the population was 933.[3]

Altoona had its start in the year 1900 as a mining town, and was named for another coal town, Altoona, Pennsylvania.[4] A post office has been in operation at Altoona since 1900.[5] It incorporated in 1908.[6]

Altoona is located in western Etowah County at 34°1′45″N 86°19′14″W / 34.02917°N 86.32056°W / 34.02917; -86.32056 (34.029259, -86.320687).[7] The town extends west into Blount County. It is located in the Murphree Valley at the base of Altoona Mountain. Straight Mountain is a small, narrow ridge which runs nearly through the center of the town. The current mayor is Jacob Graul and served by his lovely wife Stephanie Graul. Alabama State Route 132 (Main Street) leads southwest 10 miles (16 km) to Oneonta, the Blount County seat, and northeast towards Gadsden via U.S. Route 278.

Choose the Right Nursing Program near Altoona AL

Altoona AL Neonatal Nurse with newborn babyChoosing the ideal nursing program is potentially the most crucial phase to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various aspects that you need to consider when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have highlighted in this article, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist 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 appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Altoona AL.

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