How to Pick an Accredited Nursing College near Oro Valley AZ
Searching for the right nursing program near Oro Valley AZ may seem like a complex endeavor, 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 in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are many important additional things to look into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are available together with what the functions of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Oro Valley AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Oro Valley Arizona area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program offered by Arizona community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at Arizona 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 wish to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus 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 requirements.
Nursing Online Classes
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is growing into a more popular way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend classes for some Oro Valley AZ students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. 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 family responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Oro Valley AZ or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Arizona and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other programs.
- 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 organization. Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Arizona for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to 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 readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. 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 contact some Oro Valley 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 colleges 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Oro Valley AZ healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. 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 as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Oro Valley AZ area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Oro Valley AZ RN Program
Picking the right nursing degree program is potentially the most critical step to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are a number of factors that you should consider when deciding on a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have stressed within this content, it is critical that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Oro Valley AZ.