How to Choose the Right RN Degree Program near Tucson AZ
Selecting the best nursing school near Tucson AZ may feel like a formidable endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your home is no doubt not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are many essential additional factors to investigate before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are offered along with what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Tucson AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the exact 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:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level 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 administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
There is more than one degree option available 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 receive a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to obtain 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 Tucson Arizona area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program offered by Arizona community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at Arizona colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want to advance 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 usually a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has earned 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. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Arizona board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend college for many Tucson AZ students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. 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 family responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Why Enter the Nursing Profession?Nurses are an integral component of a Tucson AZ medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to many opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, the most meaningful are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often choose the profession out of a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This human side of the healthcare profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related elements, is appealing to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work environments, including nursing homes, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses deliver personal patient care, others opt to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Tucson AZ or on the web, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Arizona and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the field.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping verify that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Arizona or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, check with the Arizona school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Tucson 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 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 Tucson AZ healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Tucson AZ area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Tucson AZ RN Program
Choosing the right nursing program is perhaps the most important step to starting a new career in the medical care field. There are a number of aspects that you must take into account when picking a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have pointed out within this article, it is essential that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Tucson AZ.