How to Enroll In an Accredited Nursing Program near Little Rock AR
Choosing the best nursing school near Little Rock AR may feel like a formidable undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, 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 determine the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many future students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house is no doubt not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are several crucial additional considerations to look into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Little Rock AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing 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), as an example, 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 common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are multiple degrees available 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 earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries 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 commonly a 2 year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive 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 prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire 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 usually a 2 year program after achieving 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 attained 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. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Programs
Attending nursing colleges online is becoming a more popular way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend college for some Little Rock AR students. Concerning tuition, some 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 affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and household commitments have left you with limited 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.
What to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Little Rock AR or on the internet, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the field.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping verify that you receive a premium 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 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers 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 services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, get in touch with the Arkansas school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with 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 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Little Rock AR medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. 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 also. Check if the schools have associations with Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Little Rock AR Nursing School
Selecting the right nursing program is probably the most important step to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are many variables that you need to think about when choosing a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have highlighted in this article, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Little Rock AR.