How to Choose an Accredited Nursing Program near Jonesboro AR
Locating the best nursing college near Jonesboro AR may feel like a challenging endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of important additional things to explore before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree alternatives that are offered together with what the functions of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely Jonesboro AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees available 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 just 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Jonesboro 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 centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn 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 previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish 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 commonly a 2 year program after acquiring 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 attained 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 make sure to get in touch with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more favored way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend school for many Jonesboro AR students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many 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 responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Jonesboro AR or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other schools.
- 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping confirm that you obtain a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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. Certain 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 provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Arkansas school licensing authority to check 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 opinions are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN programs 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 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 substantiate 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 most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Jonesboro AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Jonesboro AR RN School
Deciding on the ideal nursing degree program is potentially the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are many factors that you need to take into account when deciding on a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have emphasized within this post, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create 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 hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Jonesboro AR.