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Nursing School Degree Programs North Little Rock Arkansas

How to Select the Best Nursing College near North Little Rock AR

North Little Rock AR Registered Nurse with Doctor and PatientSelecting the right nursing school near North Little Rock AR may feel like a formidable endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least costly school or the one that is closest to your house is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are many crucial additional things to check into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree alternatives that are available together with what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

North Little Rock AR Nurse taking blood pressure of elderly woman

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

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

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

Nursing Degrees Available

North Little Rock Arkansas Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option 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 receive a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the North Little Rock Arkansas area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities such as 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 typically a 4 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 generally a 2 year program after obtaining 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 obtained 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. Various other 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

North Little Rock Arkansas student attending nursing classes onlineAttending nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend college for some North 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 may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and family commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Programs

Now that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near North Little Rock AR or on the web, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the other programs.

  • 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 organization. In addition to helping verify that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many 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 attending not only delivers a top-notch education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, check with the Arkansas school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some North 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 colleges 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the North Little Rock AR medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with North Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Best North Little Rock AR RN Program

Enrolling in the ideal nursing college is arguably the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are many factors that you should think about when picking a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have pointed out in this post, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community.  By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in North Little Rock AR.