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Nursing School Degree Programs North Little Rock Arkansas

How to Choose an Accredited RN College near North Little Rock AR

North Little Rock AR Registered Nurse with Physician and PatientSelecting the best nursing program near North Little Rock AR may feel like a formidable endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to look 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 vitally important that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least costly program or the one that is closest to your residence is most likely not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are many essential additional things to investigate before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are offered as well as what the functions of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

North Little Rock AR RN taking vital signs of woman

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as North Little Rock AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:

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

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

Nursing Degrees

North Little Rock Arkansas Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can acquire a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available 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 readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 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 progress 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 generally a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has attained 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 vary 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 woman attending nursing classes onlineAttending nursing programs online is emerging as a more popular way to obtain training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend classes for many North Little Rock AR students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, 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 family responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Programs

Once you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near North Little Rock AR or online, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final choice, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain 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 delivers an outstanding education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Arkansas school licensing authority to find out 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 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 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 favorable reputation within the North Little Rock AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best 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 as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with North Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best North Little Rock AR RN Program

North Little Rock Arkansas nurse holding patient chartDeciding on the ideal nursing degree program is perhaps the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many factors that you need to consider when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have emphasized within this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select 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 North Little Rock AR.