How to Select a Nursing School near Florence Alabama
Selecting the right nursing school near Florence AL may feel like a difficult endeavor, particularly if you don’t know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are many key additional considerations to check into before you decide 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 health system, together with the nursing degree options that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as Florence AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced 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 administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
There is more than one degree option offered to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Florence AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally 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 desire 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 usually a 2 year program after acquiring 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 obtained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don’t forget to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Courses
There are basically two academic credentials offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest amount of time, normally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The 2nd alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and normally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with supplying a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they provide more transferable 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 another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the syllabus adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be obtained at Florence AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from just one to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal period of training required and that every state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s essential to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course 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 prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Schools
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is growing into a more favored way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. 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 school for some Florence AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplemental 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 like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Florence AL or online, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the other schools.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Florence AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Florence AL healthcare organizations you’re interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Florence AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Florence AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enrolling in a Nursing School near Florence AL?
Perhaps you have already made your decision to attend a Nursing Program in the greater Florence 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.
Florence is the largest and principal city of the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Statistical Area (which includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia metropolitan areas in Colbert and Lauderdale counties). Florence is considered northwestern Alabama's primary economic hub.
Annual tourism events include the W. C. Handy Music Festival in the summer and the Renaissance Faire in the fall. Landmarks in Florence include the Rosenbaum House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home located in Alabama.
Florence and Lauderdale County have one hospital, Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. ECM is a 358 bed facility owned by RCCH HealthCare Partners in Brentwood, Tennessee. In 2010 RCCH HealthCare Partners announced that they would build a new hospital in Florence. The hospital is due to be completed in December 2018.
Choose the Right Nursing Program near Florence AL
Picking the ideal nursing college is perhaps the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous aspects that you should take into account when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out within this post, it is essential that you select a nursing college 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 create 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 ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Florence AL.
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