How to Choose the Best Nursing Degree Program near Litchfield Park Arizona
Choosing the right nursing school near Litchfield Park AZ may feel like a difficult undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least expensive program or the one that is local to your residence is probably not the best way to select a nursing program. There are a number of important additional things to check out before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as Litchfield Park AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced 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 provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
There are multiple degrees offered to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Litchfield Park AZ area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed 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 progress 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 two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has acquired 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. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Arizona board of nursing for any state mandates.
There are principally two academic accreditations available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be finished in the shortest amount of time, commonly about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The 2nd alternative is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and commonly require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides offering a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you seek, 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 course of study adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA education can be received at Litchfield Park 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 have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum amount of instruction mandated and every state has its own requirements. So it's crucial to make certain that the program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but likewise those for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course is state approved. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more popular way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating answer to finding the free time to attend classes for some Litchfield Park AZ students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even supplemental 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 such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Litchfield Park AZ or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Arizona and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school as well as 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 only qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick 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. Besides helping verify that you receive a premium education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Litchfield Park AZ for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, check with the Arizona school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Litchfield Park AZ 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased 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 superb reputation within the Litchfield Park AZ medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain 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. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Litchfield Park AZ hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Right Litchfield Park Nursing College
Selecting the ideal registered nursing school is perhaps the most critical phase to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many factors that you need to think about when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed in this post, it is critical that you select an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Litchfield Park AZ.