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Nursing School Degree Programs Little Rock Arkansas

How to Choose the Best RN College near Little Rock AR

Little Rock AR RN with Doctor and PatientLocating the best nursing program near Little Rock AR may feel like a complex endeavor, especially if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire 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 thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many future students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your house is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are several important additional things to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree alternatives that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Little Rock AR Nurse taking blood pressure of woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Little Rock AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

Little Rock Arkansas Nurse assisting surgeon

There are several degree options available to become a nurse. And in order 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 as little as 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations 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 generally a two year program made available by Arkansas community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified 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 normally a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Programs

Little Rock AR student attending RN school onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more in demand way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend college for many Little Rock AR students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and family commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Now that you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Little Rock AR or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares 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 recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you get a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Arkansas school licensing authority to determine 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 colleges 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb 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 acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Little Rock AR Nursing Program

Little Rock Arkansas RN holding patient chartPicking the right nursing college is probably the most important first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of aspects that you should think about when picking a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this article, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Little Rock AR.