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Nursing School Degree Programs Little Rock Arkansas

How to Find the Right RN School near Little Rock AR

Little Rock AR RN with Physician and PatientFinding the right nursing program near Little Rock AR may feel like a formidable endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your home is undoubtedly not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are various key additional things to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Little Rock AR Nurse taking blood pressure of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Little Rock AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a higher 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 administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

Little Rock Arkansas Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in 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 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Little Rock Arkansas area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a four 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 might want 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 generally a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Schools

Little Rock Arkansas student attending RN classes onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more popular way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend classes for many Little Rock AR students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Now that you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Little Rock AR or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably 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 choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other schools.

  • 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. In addition to helping make sure that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together 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 essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, contact the Arkansas school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Little Rock 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 schools 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 obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Little Rock AR Nursing Program

Picking the right nursing school is probably the most critical first step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous variables that you must take into account when choosing a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed in this content, it is critical that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Little Rock AR.