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Nursing School Degree Programs North Little Rock Arkansas

How to Pick the Right RN Program near North Little Rock AR

North Little Rock AR RN with Doctor and PatientChoosing the best nursing college near North Little Rock AR may seem like a complex 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 receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many future students base their determination entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least costly school or the one that is local to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are various key additional things to investigate before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are available as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

North Little Rock AR Nurse taking vital signs of woman

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as North Little Rock AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

North Little Rock Arkansas RN assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees 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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short 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 commonly a 2 year program made available by Arkansas community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn 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 allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want to advance 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 normally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus 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) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Classes

North Little Rock AR student attending nursing classes onlineAttending nursing schools online is growing into a more preferred way to obtain training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend classes for some North Little Rock AR students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and household responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near North Little Rock AR or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two things that you will consider. 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 schools.

  • 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 organization. In addition to helping confirm that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, 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 considering 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the North Little Rock AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with North Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Right North Little Rock AR RN Program

North Little Rock Arkansas nurse holding medical chartPicking the ideal nursing program is perhaps the most critical phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous factors that you need to take into account when choosing a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have stressed in this content, it is critical that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community.  By using 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 ultimate 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.