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Nursing School Degree Programs Hot Springs Arkansas

How to Select the Best Nursing School near Hot Springs AR

Hot Springs AR RN with Doctor and PatientSelecting the right nursing program near Hot Springs AR may seem like a complicated endeavor, 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 must obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is local to your residence is undoubtedly not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are various important additional things to check into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are available as well as what the roles of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Hot Springs AR Nurse taking blood pressure of patient

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as Hot Springs AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

Hot Springs Arkansas RN assisting surgeon

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 as little as 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations 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 commonly a two year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later 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 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 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 typically a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides 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. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Programs

Hot Springs Arkansas woman attending RN college onlineAttending nursing schools online is growing into a more popular way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend school for some Hot Springs AR students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of 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 limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Schools

Now that you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Hot Springs AR or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares 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. Besides helping ensure that you receive a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Many 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 prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, check with 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 colleges 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 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 a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check 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 Nursing School

Picking the ideal nursing college is arguably the most critical phase to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous variables that you need to think about when deciding on a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Hot Springs AR.