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Nursing School Degree Programs Hot Springs Arkansas

How to Choose an Accredited RN Program near Hot Springs AR

Hot Springs AR RN with Doctor and PatientSelecting the best nursing program near Hot Springs AR may seem like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many future students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least costly school or the one that is closest to your residence is probably not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are several essential additional considerations to explore before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree alternatives that are offered along with what the functions of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Hot Springs AR RN taking blood pressure of woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as Hot Springs AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

Hot Springs Arkansas Nurse assisting surgeon

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 obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on 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 readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish to progress 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 2 year program after acquiring 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 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 make sure to check with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Schools

Hot Springs Arkansas student attending nursing classes onlineAttending nursing programs online is emerging as a more in demand way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend school for many Hot Springs AR students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more 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 job and household commitments have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Programs

Once you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Hot Springs AR or on the web, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other schools.

  • 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 organization. Aside from helping make sure that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses are different 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. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, check 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Hot Springs AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Hot Springs AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Choose the Right Hot Springs AR Nursing Program

Choosing the ideal nursing program is potentially the most critical phase to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are a number of aspects that you should think about when selecting a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is important that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Hot Springs AR.