How to Pick the Right Nursing Degree Program near Hot Springs AR
Choosing the best nursing program near Hot Springs AR may seem like a challenging project, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and measure the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence is undoubtedly not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are several important additional things to check into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are available along with what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Hot Springs AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. Some of the duties 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 higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Hot Springs Arkansas area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program made available by Arkansas community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able 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 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 normally a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Classes
Enrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more in demand way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend college for many Hot Springs AR students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. 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 work and household obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Why Choose the Nursing Profession?Nurses are an indispensable part of a Hot Springs AR medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various 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 due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the medical profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related elements, is appealing to many who decide to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, such as home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specialties, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses deliver primary patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Hot Springs AR or online, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are probably going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping ensure that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring 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 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 delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Also, contact the Arkansas school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with 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 considering 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Hot Springs AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Hot Springs AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Hot Springs AR Nursing School
Picking the right nursing program is perhaps the most critical step to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous factors that you must think about when choosing a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have highlighted in this post, it is important that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate 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.