How to Pick the Best RN Program near Jonesboro AR
Choosing the best nursing college near Jonesboro AR may seem like a complicated project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least costly college or the one that is local to your residence is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are many essential additional considerations to check into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Jonesboro AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping 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 normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
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 earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Jonesboro 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 medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want 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 usually a two 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) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Classes
Enrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend school for many Jonesboro AR students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and family commitments have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Jonesboro AR or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see 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 organization. In addition to helping confirm that you receive an excellent education, it may help 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 differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also preps 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 reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Arkansas school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Jonesboro AR healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied 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 good reputation within the Jonesboro AR medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually 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 Jonesboro AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Jonesboro AR Nursing Program
Deciding on the ideal nursing degree program is perhaps the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many aspects that you must take into account when deciding on a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Jonesboro AR.