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Nursing School Degree Programs Little Rock Arkansas

How to Enroll In the Right Nursing Degree Program near Little Rock AR

Little Rock AR Nurse with Doctor and PatientChoosing the best nursing school near Little Rock AR may seem like a challenging project, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order 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 evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your home is no doubt not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are several essential additional considerations to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are available along with what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Little Rock AR Nurse taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Little Rock AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex 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 deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Little Rock Arkansas Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option offered to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 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 medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has received 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 contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Classes

Little Rock AR woman attending RN college onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more popular way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for 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 method may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend college for many Little Rock AR students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily 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 commitments have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Enter the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an important component of a Little Rock AR medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, the most notable are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly go into the profession out of a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This human aspect of the medical profession, rather than the research or analytical related facets, is appealing to many who choose to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a variety of work settings, including nursing homes, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses deliver direct patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Schools

questions to ask Little Rock AR nursing degree programsNow that you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Little Rock AR or online, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other schools.

  • 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some 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 a top-notch education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, check 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 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 displeased 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 superb reputation within the Little Rock AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best Little Rock AR Nursing School

Little Rock AR nurse holding newbornDeciding on the right nursing degree program is probably the most critical phase to beginning a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of factors that you need to consider when deciding on a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this article, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Little Rock AR.