How to Pick a Nursing School near Gulf Shores Alabama
Locating the right nursing program near Gulf Shores AL may seem like a complex project, especially if you don’t know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive school or the one that is local to your residence is probably not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are several crucial additional aspects to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first cover what the function of a registered nurse is in our health system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as Gulf Shores AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to support 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 portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing 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 responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
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 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Gulf Shores AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly 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 use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually 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 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 typically a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has earned 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. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don’t forget to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Courses
There are principally two scholastic credentials offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest time frame, generally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The second alternative is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and generally require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with offering a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, 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 properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at Gulf Shores AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from one to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of instruction directed and that each state has its specific requirements. So it’s important to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the education 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 additional prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more preferred way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain 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 convenient solution to finding the time to attend classes for many Gulf Shores AL students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more 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. Therefore if your work and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have selected which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Gulf Shores AL or on the internet, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate 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 recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Gulf Shores AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Gulf Shores 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 schools 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 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 verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Gulf Shores AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Gulf Shores AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enrolling in a Nursing School near Gulf Shores AL?
Perhaps you have already made your decision to attend a Nursing Program in the greater Gulf Shores 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.
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores is located on the Gulf of Mexico at 30°16'4.069" North, 87°42'5.285" West (30.267797, −87.701468). It is the southernmost settlement in the state of Alabama. It is served by Alabama State Route 59 (Gulf Shores Parkway), which leads north to Foley. Route 182 (Beach Boulevard) runs east-west along the shore front, while Route 180 (Fort Morgan Road) runs parallel to it, north of Little Lagoon. Gulf State Park occupies a large eastern part of the city.
Gulf Shores is located 33 miles (53 km) west of Pensacola, Florida, 54 miles (87 km) south of Mobile, 197 miles (317 km) east of New Orleans, 194 miles (312 km) south of Montgomery, and 55 miles (89 km) west of Navarre, Florida.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.0 square miles (72.5 km2), of which 23.2 square miles (60.0 km2) is land and 4.8 square miles (12.5 km2), or 17.24%, is water.
Enroll in the Right Nursing School near Gulf Shores AL
Choosing the ideal nursing degree program is perhaps the most important first step to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are numerous variables that you must think about when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this article, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Gulf Shores AL.
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