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Nursing School Degree Programs North Little Rock Arkansas

How to Enroll In the Best Nursing Degree Program near North Little Rock AR

North Little Rock AR Nurse with Physician and PatientSearching for the best nursing school near North Little Rock AR may feel like a formidable endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least costly college or the one that is local to your residence is most likely not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are various key additional considerations to check into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree alternatives that are available together with what the functions of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

North Little Rock AR Nurse taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely North Little Rock AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

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

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

North Little Rock Arkansas Nurse assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option offered 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 receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions 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 usually a two year program made available by Arkansas community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later obtain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive 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 might want 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 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.

After a graduating student has earned 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 be sure to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Programs

North Little Rock AR woman attending RN school onlineEnrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend school for some North Little Rock AR students. Pertaining to 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 economical. And many 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 responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an indispensable part of a North Little Rock AR medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to many opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, the most notable are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a medical facility or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses often choose the profession out of a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human side of the healthcare profession, rather than the research or analytical related aspects, is appealing to many who choose to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a variety of work environments, such as home care facilities, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses deliver personal patient care, others opt to be educators, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

Questions to Ask Nursing Programs

questions to ask North Little Rock AR nursing degree programsNow that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near North Little Rock AR or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping verify that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, contact the Arkansas school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some North 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 colleges you are looking at what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to finish 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 North Little Rock AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with North Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Choose the Right North Little Rock AR RN School

North Little Rock AR pediatric nurse holding newbornChoosing the right nursing program is probably the most critical first step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are many variables that you should take into account when selecting a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have stressed in this article, it is important that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in North Little Rock AR.