How to Select an Accredited Nursing School near Little Rock AR
Finding the best nursing school near Little Rock AR may seem like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least costly program or the one that is nearest to your home is no doubt not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are several important additional considerations to investigate before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Little Rock AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Keeping 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 often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option offered 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 obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Little Rock Arkansas area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by Arkansas community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish 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 two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When 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) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so make sure to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing schools online is growing into a more preferred way to obtain training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend school for many Little Rock AR students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, 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. So if your job and household obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, and 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 undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other schools.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, check with the Arkansas school licensing authority to find 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 complete 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 contacts to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best 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. Many 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 Best Little Rock AR RN Program
Picking the ideal nursing school is potentially the most critical phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various aspects that you must think about when picking a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have highlighted in this post, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Little Rock AR.