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Nursing School Degree Programs Little Rock Arkansas

How to Pick the Best Nursing Course near Little Rock AR

Little Rock AR Registered Nurse with Doctor and PatientSearching for the best nursing college near Little Rock AR may feel like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many future students base their decision exclusively on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional considerations to explore before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the functions 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 most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Little Rock AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 several degree options 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 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short 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 typically a two year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually 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 might desire 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 generally a two year program after receiving 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. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Programs

Little Rock Arkansas woman attending RN classes onlineAttending nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend classes for some Little Rock AR students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and household obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges

Once you have selected 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 pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the field.

  • 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. Besides helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary 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. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. In addition, check with the Arkansas school licensing authority to check 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 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 medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts 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 setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Best Little Rock AR RN Program

Deciding on the right nursing college is probably the most important step to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of aspects that you must think about when deciding on a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have emphasized within this article, it is important that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community.  By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select 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.