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Nursing School Degree Programs North Little Rock Arkansas

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

North Little Rock AR RN with Physician and PatientSelecting the right nursing program near North Little Rock AR may seem like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least expensive program or the one that is local to your house is no doubt not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are several important additional factors to explore before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are offered together with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

North Little Rock AR RN taking vital signs of woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely North Little Rock AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced 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 common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

North Little Rock Arkansas Nurse assisting surgeon

There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations 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 generally a two year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 commonly a two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

Once 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. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Schools

North Little Rock AR student attending RN classes onlineAttending nursing colleges online is becoming a more preferred way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical answer to finding the time to attend college for some North Little Rock AR students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, 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. So if your job and household responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Nursing?

Nurses are an integral component of a North Little Rock AR medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, among the most significant are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently go into the profession out of a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This human side of the health profession, rather than the research or analytical related elements, is attractive to many who elect to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work settings, including home care facilities, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specialties, such as addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although many nurses provide personal patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Schools

what to ask North Little Rock AR nursing degree collegesOnce you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near North Little Rock AR or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably 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 choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the field.

  • 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 make sure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with 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 an excellent education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. In addition, check with the Arkansas school licensing authority to find 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 assessments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN programs 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the North Little Rock AR medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with North Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Choose the Best North Little Rock AR RN Program

North Little Rock AR nurse holding babyChoosing the ideal nursing college is arguably the most critical phase to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of aspects that you must consider when selecting a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have pointed out in this post, it is essential that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our list 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 proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in North Little Rock AR.