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Nursing School Degree Programs Little Rock Arkansas

How to Find an Accredited RN Training Program near Little Rock AR

Little Rock AR RN with Physician and PatientLocating the best nursing program near Little Rock AR may feel like a challenging undertaking, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you 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 assess the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your house is no doubt not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional things to look into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree alternatives that are offered together 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 numerous different medical settings, including Little Rock AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and typically 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 Degree Options

Little Rock Arkansas RN assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees 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 two years, or advance to achieve 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 usually a two year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn 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 eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire to progress 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 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

Once 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) so as to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Schools

Little Rock AR woman attending nursing school onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more in demand way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend college for some Little Rock AR students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, 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. Therefore if your job and household responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Nursing?

Nurses are an important part of a Little Rock AR medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to many opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, among the most significant are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a hospital or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly go into the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the medical profession, rather than the analytical or research related elements, is appealing to many who choose to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, such as home care facilities, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although many nurses provide direct patient care, others choose to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

questions to ask Little Rock AR nursing training schoolsOnce you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Little Rock AR or on the internet, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably 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 selection measures up 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 organization. Besides helping verify that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many 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 delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, contact 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 judgments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools 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 dissatisfied 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 favorable reputation within the Little Rock AR medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain 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 certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Choose the Right Little Rock AR RN School

Little Rock AR RN holding babyChoosing the ideal nursing program is arguably the most important phase to starting a new career in the health care field. There are a number of factors 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 financial situation. As we have stressed within this post, it is essential that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Little Rock AR.