How to Find the Right Nursing Degree Program near Phoenix AZ
Searching for the best nursing school near Phoenix AZ may feel like a complex undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your residence is no doubt not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional considerations to investigate before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, including Phoenix AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
There are several degree options 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 obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Phoenix Arizona area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally 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 attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Arizona colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed 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 advance 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 normally 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 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. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Arizona board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is growing into a more in demand way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend college for some Phoenix AZ students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and household commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Phoenix AZ or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Arizona and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are probably going to be the first 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 pick compares to the other programs.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping confirm that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Arizona 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 certain number of clinical hours be performed, 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 readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Arizona school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Phoenix 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 confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Phoenix AZ healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Phoenix AZ area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Best Phoenix AZ RN School
Selecting the right nursing college is probably the most important first step to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous variables that you should think about when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this post, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist 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 Phoenix AZ.