How to Choose a Nursing College near Cullman Alabama
Locating the best nursing program near Cullman AL may seem like a formidable undertaking, particularly 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 determine the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house is most likely not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are several essential additional considerations to check out before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let’s first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Cullman AL hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to assist doctors in the care 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. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing 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 high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master’s Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option available to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Cullman AL area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically 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 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 commonly a 2 year program after receiving 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 obtained 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. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alabama board of nursing for any state mandates.
LVN and LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are basically two scholastic accreditations offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest time frame, normally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The 2nd alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and commonly require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, besides offering a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the type 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 course of study properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA training can be received at Cullman AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration 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 have at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which have to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of training required and every state has its own prerequisites. So it’s essential to make sure 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 tip is to contact 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 may be additional requirements as well.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more popular way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend school for many Cullman AL students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many 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 obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have selected which nursing program to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Cullman AL or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, 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 other programs.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping verify that you get a premium education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Cullman AL for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit online 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. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Cullman AL healthcare organizations you’re interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgments 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 unhappy 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 good reputation within the Cullman AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Cullman AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Enrolling in a Nursing School near Cullman AL?
Perhaps you have already made your decision to attend a Nursing Program in the greater Cullman 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.
Cullman is a city in and the county seat of Cullman County, Alabama, United States. It is located along Interstate 65, about 50 miles (80 km) north of Birmingham and about 55 miles (89 km) south of Huntsville. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 14,775, with an estimated population of 15,385 in 2017.
In the time before European settlement, the area that today includes Cullman was originally in the territory of the Cherokee Nation. The region was traversed by a trail known as the Black Warrior's Path, which led from the Tennessee River near the present location of Florence, Alabama, to a point on the Black Warrior River south of Cullman. This trail figured significantly in Cherokee history, and it featured prominently in the American Indian Wars prior to the establishment of the state of Alabama and the relocation of several American Indian tribes, including the Creek people westward along the Trail of Tears. During the Creek War in 1813, General Andrew Jackson of the U.S. Army dispatched a contingent of troops down the trail, one of which included the frontiersman Davy Crockett.
In the 1820s and the 1830s, two toll roads were built linking the Tennessee Valley to present-day Birmingham. In 1822, Abraham Stout was given a charter by the Alabama Legislature to open and turnpike a road beginning from Gandy's Cove in Morgan County to the ghost town of Baltimore on the Mulberry Fork near Colony. The road passed near present-day Vinemont through Cullman, Good Hope, and down the current Interstate 65 corridor to the Mulberry Fork. The road was later extended to Elyton (Birmingham) in 1827. It then became known as Stout's Road. Mace Thomas Payne Brindley was given a charter in 1833 to turnpike two roads, one running between Blount Springs to Somerville by way of his homestead in present-day Simcoe, and the second road passing west of Hanceville and east of Downtown Cullman to join Stout's Road north of the city. What later became the Brindley Turnpike became an extension of Stout's Road to Decatur. Cullman later became located between the juncture of the two roads, and they predated the corridor of U.S. Route 31.
Enroll in the Right Nursing Program near Cullman AL
Choosing the ideal nursing college is arguably the most crucial step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are many factors that you must take into account when deciding on a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed within this article, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare 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 proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Cullman AL.
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