How to Choose the Best Nursing College near Hot Springs AR
Selecting the best nursing school near Hot Springs AR may feel like a complex project, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence is most likely not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional considerations to explore before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Hot Springs AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of 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 typically 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 is more than one degree option to choose from 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 as little as 2 years, or continue on to earn 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 usually a two year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire 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 normally a 2 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.
When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more popular way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend classes for many Hot Springs AR students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. 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. Therefore if your job and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Hot Springs AR or on the internet, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares 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 agency. Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, get in touch with the Arkansas school licensing authority to check 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 opinions are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN colleges you are looking at 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the Hot Springs AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Hot Springs AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Hot Springs AR RN School
Deciding on the ideal nursing school is perhaps the most crucial first step to beginning a new career in the medical care industry. There are many variables that you should take into account when picking a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed within this article, it is important that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist 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 desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Hot Springs AR.