How to Choose the Right Nursing Degree Program near Laveen Arizona
Selecting the right nursing school near Laveen AZ may seem like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the necessary education and training 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. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least costly program or the one that is local to your residence is most likely not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of important additional considerations to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, together with the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Laveen AZ hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing 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 example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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 Available
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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Laveen AZ area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 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 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 commonly a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once 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. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Arizona board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Training
There are generally two scholastic accreditations offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest time period, normally about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. 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 finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with offering a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you pursue, it needs to be Arizona approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the syllabus adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA education can be received at Laveen AZ area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from just one to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of instruction required and each state has its specific requirements. So it's crucial to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but also those for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training is state certified. As well as the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be additional requirements as well.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more popular way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Laveen AZ students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. 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 household obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Laveen AZ or online, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Arizona and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the field.
- 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 agency. Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Laveen AZ for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses are different 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. Some 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 an outstanding education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Arizona or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Arizona school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Laveen 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 schools you are considering 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 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 Laveen AZ medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain 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 specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Laveen AZ hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Select the Right Laveen Nursing School
Picking the right registered nursing program is perhaps the most important step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of factors that you must think about when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have pointed out within this post, it is important that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Laveen AZ.