How to Enroll In the Best RN Program near Hot Springs AR
Selecting the best nursing school near Hot Springs AR may seem like a difficult project, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many future students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your home is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are several essential additional factors to investigate before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are available along with what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Hot Springs AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing 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 responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally 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.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are multiple degrees offered to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries 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 2 year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want 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 two year program after receiving 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, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing schools online is growing into a more in demand way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend college for some Hot Springs AR students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Hot Springs AR or on the web, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is necessary 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 and the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two things 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 see how your pick measures up to the other programs.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary 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. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, 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 opinions 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Hot Springs AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Hot Springs AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Choose the Best Hot Springs AR Nursing School
Picking the ideal nursing degree program is perhaps the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are a number of variables that you need to take into account when picking a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this content, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care 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 proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Hot Springs AR.