How to Choose the Best Nursing Degree Program near Tucson AZ
Finding the right nursing program near Tucson AZ may feel like a difficult project, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least costly college or the one that is closest to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are many key additional things to check out before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are offered along with what the roles of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Tucson AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for 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 are several degree options 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 acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Tucson Arizona area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by Arizona community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Arizona colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire 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 generally a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When 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. Further 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.
Nursing Online Schools
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to obtain instruction and attain 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 center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend college for many Tucson AZ students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, 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 job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Why Nursing?Nurses are an integral component of a Tucson AZ medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to many opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, the most significant are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often choose the profession out of a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human side of the medical profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related facets, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a variety of specializations, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although most nurses provide direct patient care, others opt to be educators, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Tucson AZ or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Arizona and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, 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 as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping confirm that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided in Arizona for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ 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. Certain 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 provides an excellent education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Arizona school licensing authority to check out 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 opinions are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN programs 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good 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 get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Tucson AZ area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Choose the Best Tucson AZ RN School
Selecting the ideal nursing school is probably the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of aspects that you need to consider when selecting a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have highlighted in this post, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final 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.