How to Find an Accredited RN College near Little Rock AR
Searching for the best nursing program near Little Rock AR may feel like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your house is most likely not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are various key additional aspects to investigate before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are available together with what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care 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 job is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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.
There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six 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 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 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 comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly 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 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 normally a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more popular way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend classes for many Little Rock AR students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, 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 job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Little Rock AR or online, you can use the following checklist 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 essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other schools.
- 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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping confirm that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific 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 provides an excellent education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, get in touch with the Arkansas school licensing authority to find 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 schools you are looking at 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Little Rock AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost 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. Find out 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 RN School
Selecting the ideal nursing degree program is perhaps the most critical step to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are various aspects that you must consider when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have stressed in this content, 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 develop a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Little Rock AR.