How to Select the Best RN Program near Hot Springs AR
Finding the right nursing program near Hot Springs AR 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, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their determination entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your house is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many key additional considerations to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, including Hot Springs AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and often 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.
There are multiple degrees 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 obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Hot Springs Arkansas area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program made available by Arkansas community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their previous 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 typically a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has attained 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. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Programs
Attending nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Hot Springs AR students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even other 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 job and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Hot Springs AR or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is important 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 and the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate 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 recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping verify that you receive a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ 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. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential 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 Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, check with the Arkansas school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Hot Springs AR 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 programs you are looking at 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 verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Hot Springs AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Hot Springs AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Hot Springs AR Nursing Program
Choosing the right nursing program is potentially the most important first step to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are many aspects that you should think about when choosing a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have highlighted in this content, it is essential that you pick a nursing school 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 pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Hot Springs AR.