How to Pick the Right RN Degree Program near Little Rock AR
Finding the right nursing school near Little Rock AR may feel like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least costly program or the one that is nearest to your house is most likely not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are various crucial additional aspects to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are available as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Little Rock AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing 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 accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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 Degrees Available
There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can acquire a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Little Rock Arkansas area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able 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 advance 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 generally a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once 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. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more preferred way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend school for some Little Rock AR students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many 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 household obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Little Rock AR or online, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school and the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the field.
- 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 organization. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative 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 online rating services 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 find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Little Rock 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 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 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the Little Rock AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Little Rock AR Nursing School
Deciding on the ideal nursing school is probably the most important phase to starting a new career in the medical care field. There are numerous aspects that you must take into account when deciding on a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have pointed out within this content, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Little Rock AR.