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How to Select the Right Nursing Program near Maricopa Arizona

Maricopa Arizona nurse with physician and patientSearching for the right nursing college near Maricopa AZ may feel like a complex undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional aspects to check out before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first go over what the role of a registered nurse is in our health system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are available.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Maricopa Arizona RN talking to a nursing home patient

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, including Maricopa AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

There is more than one degree option to choose from 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 just 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Maricopa AZ area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want 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 usually a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Arizona board of nursing for any state mandates.

LPN Programs

Maricopa Arizona LVN holding door for man using crutchesThere are essentially two academic credentials offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be concluded in the shortest time frame, commonly about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The other choice is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from supplying a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of 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 attests that the course of study effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Diplomas

In contrast to some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA education can be received at Maricopa AZ area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training can take anywhere from one to 3 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 instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction directed and that each state has its own prerequisites. So it's essential to make sure that the course you enroll in not only fulfills 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 certain that the training course is state certified. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional prerequisites as well.

Nursing Online Programs

Maricopa Arizona RN assisting surgeon with operationAttending nursing programs online is emerging as a more in demand way to receive training and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some Maricopa AZ students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary 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 like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and household obligations have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Once you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Maricopa AZ or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. 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 select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Maricopa AZ for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as 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 imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Arizona school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Maricopa 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 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 substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Maricopa AZ medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Maricopa AZ hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Learn More About Maricopa Nursing Schools

Enroll in the Right Maricopa Nursing Degree Program

Deciding on the right registered nursing program is probably the most critical first step to launching a new career in the health care field. There are a number of variables that you must consider when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this post, it is important that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Maricopa AZ.



 

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