How to Choose the Best Nursing Degree Program near Gilbert Arizona
Finding the best nursing program near Gilbert AZ may seem like a complicated project, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is local to your residence is probably not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are many essential additional things to investigate before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover what the function of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Gilbert AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option available to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Gilbert AZ area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It readies 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 attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their past 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 typically a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has earned 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. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Arizona board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are principally two academic credentials available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be finished in the shortest time frame, typically about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma course. The 2nd option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and commonly require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, aside from providing a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the kind 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 course of study effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at Gilbert AZ area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from just one to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to receive at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of training mandated and that each state has its own prerequisites. So it's essential to make certain that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but likewise 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 certain that the training is state certified. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be other requirements as well.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is becoming a more in demand way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Gilbert AZ students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous 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 commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Gilbert AZ or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Arizona and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two things that you will look at. 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 selection compares to the other schools.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Gilbert AZ for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as 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 essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, contact the Arizona school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Gilbert 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 looking at what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Gilbert AZ medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with Gilbert AZ hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Best Gilbert Nursing School
Choosing the right registered nursing program is arguably the most important phase to starting a new career in the health care field. There are many factors that you should think about when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this post, it is critical that you select an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Gilbert AZ.