How to Choose a Nursing School near Huntsville Alabama
Finding the right nursing program near Huntsville AL may seem like a complex endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and determine the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their selection solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house is no doubt not the best way to select a nursing college. There are various key additional aspects to check into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let’s first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different Huntsville AL medical settings, including hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master’s Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Huntsville AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program made available by Alabama community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally 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 want 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 attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When 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) in order to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Degrees
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more favored way to obtain instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed 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 college for many Huntsville AL students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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 obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Courses
Once you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges in the Huntsville AL area and throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are most likely going to be the first two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping verify that you receive a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans in Huntsville AL, which are frequently not provided for non-accredited schools.
- 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) along with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Huntsville 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 considering 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Huntsville AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Huntsville AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Looking at Nursing Schools near Huntsville AL?
Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County and south into Morgan County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 census. Huntsville is the third-largest city in Alabama and the largest city in the five-county Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, AL Combined Statistical Area, which at the 2013 census estimate had a total population of 683,871. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was 417,593 in 2010 to become the 2nd largest in Alabama. Huntsville metro's population reached 441,000 by 2014.
It grew across nearby hills north of the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list.
The first settlers of the area were Muscogee-speaking people. The Chickasaw traditionally claim to have settled around 1300 after coming east across the Mississippi. A combination of factors, including depopulation due to disease, land disputes between the Choctaw and Cherokee, and pressures from the United States government had largely depopulated the area prior to 1805. That year Revolutionary War veteran John Hunt settled in the land around the Big Spring. The 1805 Treaty with the Chickasaws and the Cherokee Treaty of Washington of 1806 ceded native claims to the United States Government. The area was subsequently purchased by LeRoy Pope, who named the area Twickenham after the home village of his distant kinsman Alexander Pope.
Choose the Right RN Course near Huntsville AL
Choosing the ideal registered nursing program is potentially the most critical step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many aspects that you must take into account when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed within this article, it is important that you pick an RN school 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 produce a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Huntsville AL.
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