How to Choose the Right Nursing Degree Program near Flagstaff AZ
Locating the right nursing college near Flagstaff AZ may seem like a formidable project, especially 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 must receive the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least expensive college or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of key additional factors to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree alternatives that are available along with what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Flagstaff AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Flagstaff Arizona area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program made available by Arizona community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at Arizona 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 Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is typically a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides 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) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Arizona board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Classes
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend college for some Flagstaff AZ students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may 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. And so if your work and family commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Why Nursing?Nurses are an important component of a Flagstaff AZ medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, among the most meaningful are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses commonly go into the profession out of a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This humanistic side of the healthcare profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related aspects, is appealing to many who decide to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a number of work environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although most nurses deliver personal patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Flagstaff AZ or on the web, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Arizona and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see 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 agency. Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Arizona 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. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Arizona or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, contact the Arizona school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Flagstaff AZ healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Flagstaff AZ medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Flagstaff AZ area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Flagstaff AZ RN Program
Deciding on the right nursing degree program is potentially the most crucial first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are various factors that you need to take into account when selecting a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this post, it is critical that you pick a nursing school 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 develop a short list of schools to select 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 Flagstaff AZ.