Becoming a Nurse in Alabama
Nurses in the state of Alabama practice under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Board of Nursing. There are currently 83,430 registered nurses in the state of Alabama. The board grants three licenses for different types of nurses: registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), and advanced practice nurse (APN). Students can also be certified as a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
There are several ways to obtain a nursing license. Applicants begin by attending one of the many nursing schools in Alabama, where they will complete the proper program or degree necessary for their chosen license. When this educational requirement has been satisfied, nursing candidates can take a standardized exam and apply for licensure. Applicants licensed in another state may apply for licensure by endorsement. Additional routes to licensure are available for nurses who have been previously licensed but have allowed their license to lapse.
Can I Take a Nursing Course Online?
Yes, students can attend online nursing programs in Alabama to complete a portion of their coursework online rather than in person. Online RN programs in Alabama and other nursing programs offer comprehensive curricula to introduce nursing students to key concepts and skills they’ll need in their nursing careers. For example, students may learn about nursing leadership, clinical techniques, nursing research, and human anatomy from the comfort of their homes.
Students can also choose between taking just a few nursing courses or completing most of a nursing program online. Opting for an online program could be a good idea for learners who work full time and need flexible education options to fit their schedules. In contrast, taking just a few courses online could offer a bit more scheduling flexibility while still allowing students who thrive with face-to-face learning to attend in-person classes most of the time.
Some accredited online nursing programs in Alabama also feature bridge programs to help current licensed RNs complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing. For instance, the University of South Alabama provides online RN to BSN and RN to MSN pathways with coursework, labs, and a professional component required for graduation. Upon completion, RNs earn a nursing degree, which could help them advance their careers or fulfill continuing education requirements. It may also increase the nurse salary an Alabama nurse can expect.
Students should find a program with approval from the Alabama Board of Nursing to ensure that their credits can apply toward their nursing license. Future nurses must also remember that earning an online nursing degree alone will not allow them to practice nursing in Alabama. Graduates must also complete the nursing exam through the Alabama Board of Nursing to earn licensure.
How to Get a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certificate in Alabama
CNAs are known as certified nurse aides in the state of Alabama. CNAs are authorized to assist other medical professionals in various settings, such as community mental health centers, home health agencies, hospices, and hospitals. Interested candidates should enroll in a nursing aide program to acquire the knowledge and training necessary to work in this field. However, an Alabama nursing license is not required to work as a CNA.
Although there is no formal Alabama CNA license, this doesn’t mean that CNAs are free from regulation in the state. After completing an appropriate nursing assistant program, CNA candidates must sit for the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam. This nationally recognized test is administered by a company called Pearson Vue, and the state of Alabama uses it to ensure that CNAs are practicing at an adequate level of competency. When a CNA candidate has successfully passed this test, they can become certified through the Alabama Certified Nurse Aide Registry.
To keep an Alabama CNA certificate active, a nurse aide must prove active or prior work in an accepted facility, like a nursing home or hospital, within the 24-month period before renewal. If a CNA does not work in the field for a period greater than two years, they will be required to complete a new nurse aide training program to become recertified. The state of Alabama does not issue CNA certifications by reciprocity.
How to Get a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) License in Alabama
LPN candidates in the state of Alabama should begin pursuing this career by enrolling in a practical nursing program to prepare for entry-level positions as staff nurses in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and other medical facilities. Learners must complete this program at a nursing board-accredited school. The licensure process can begin when a prospective LPN has acquired their practical nursing certificate.
Future LPNs can acquire an Alabama nursing license in three different ways. First, applicants can take the NCLEX-PN exam. If they receive a passing score, they will be eligible to apply for licensure by exam. If applicants have an LPN license in another state or country, they can apply for licensure by endorsement. Alabama does not grant immediate reciprocity, but the nursing board will evaluate applications and determine whether to grant an equivalent license. Finally, nurses who have formerly worked as LPNs in the state but who have allowed their licenses to lapse may apply for licensure by reinstatement.
Regardless of which application candidates submit, they will need to provide the board with certain additional documentation. This includes proof of citizenship or legal presence, proof of graduation, and the disclosure of any previous criminal charges. As with RN licensure, an Alabama LPN license is valid for two years. LPNs are required to renew their licenses by Dec. 31 of every odd-numbered year.
How to Get a Registered Nurse (RN) License in Alabama
An RN in Alabama begins by earning an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. A reputable nursing program provides aspiring RNs with the educational foundation and hands-on experience to help them achieve licensure.
Nursing candidates have several options when applying for an Alabama nursing license. The first step is to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN. This is an industry-standard test with national recognition. Passing this exam can qualify candidates to apply for licensure by examination. Another option exists for nurses who already have a license in another state or country: licensure by endorsement. At its discretion, the Alabama Board of Nursing will grant an equivalent license under these parameters. Finally, nurses who have allowed their Alabama RN license to expire can apply for a license by reinstatement.
Each type of application must be accompanied by personal, identifying information. This includes proof of education, proof of citizenship or legal residency, and disclosure of any prior criminal history. Once granted, an RN license in the state is valid for two years. The renewal cutoff is Dec. 31 of every even-numbered year.
How to Get an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) License in Alabama
To become an advanced practice nurse in Alabama, candidates must first possess valid RN licensure. This means that all the education requirements for that type of license also apply to APN-level work. Second, a potential APN must choose a field of specialization.
The Alabama Board of Nursing recognizes four such concentrations: certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP), certified nurse midwife (CNM), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), and clinical nurse specialist (CNS). To develop their specialization, candidates typically earn at least a master’s degree in that field. Then, graduates can apply for an Alabama nursing license directly online. They must be prepared to submit official transcripts at the time of application.
Because an Alabama APN license is contingent upon having an RN license, licensure expires when a nurse’s RN license expires. Consequently, APNs should apply to renew their licenses by Dec. 31 of even-numbered years. In addition, APNs must complete 24 continuing education contact hours. Six of these hours must be in the field of pharmacology.