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How to Select the Best Nursing School near Fountain Hills Arizona

Fountain Hills Arizona RN with doctor and patientChoosing the right nursing program near Fountain Hills AZ may feel like a difficult project, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is closest to your home is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are several essential additional considerations to investigate before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Fountain Hills Arizona nurse taking care of a nursing home patient

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Fountain Hills AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing 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 provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

There are several degree options offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Fountain Hills AZ area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior 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 generally a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

Once a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Arizona board of nursing for any state requirements.

LPN and LVN Certificates and Degrees

Fountain Hills Arizona LPN holding door for man using crutchesThere are principally two scholastic credentials available that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest period of time, commonly about one year, is the certificate or diploma course. The other choice is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from 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 type of credential you pursue, it should be Arizona approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the syllabus effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Diplomas

Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA instruction can be obtained at Fountain Hills AZ area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from 1 to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction directed and that each state has its specific prerequisites. So it's essential to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but additionally those for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the education is state certified. As well as the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional requirements as well.

Nursing Online Schools

Fountain Hills Arizona RN assisting surgeon in operating roomEnrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more preferred way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend classes for some Fountain Hills AZ students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily 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 job and family responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Schools

Once you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Fountain Hills AZ or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Arizona and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are probably going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the field.

  • 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping confirm that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Fountain Hills AZ for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain 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 provides an outstanding education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at 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, get in touch with the Arizona school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Fountain Hills AZ 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 programs 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 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 Fountain Hills AZ healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Fountain Hills AZ hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Find Out More About Fountain Hills Nursing Online Programs

Select the Right Fountain Hills Nursing Degree Program

Selecting the right registered nursing school is probably the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are various aspects that you must think about when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this post, it is important that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Fountain Hills AZ.



 

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