How to Select an Accredited Nursing Program near Sierra Vista AZ
Selecting the right nursing school near Sierra Vista AZ may seem like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your residence is most likely not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are many key additional factors to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree alternatives that are offered together with what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Sierra Vista AZ hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, 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.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option available to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Sierra Vista Arizona area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by Arizona community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at Arizona colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 job market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a two year program after acquiring 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 obtained 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. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Arizona board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more in demand way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend college for some Sierra Vista AZ students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Sierra Vista AZ or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Arizona and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the field.
- 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. In addition to helping verify that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Arizona for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies 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 speak with some Sierra Vista 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 considering 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Sierra Vista AZ medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist 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 specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Sierra Vista AZ area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Sierra Vista AZ Nursing School
Selecting the right nursing degree program is potentially the most important step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous variables that you should take into account when picking a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this article, it is critical that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Sierra Vista AZ.