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Nursing School Degree Programs North Little Rock Arkansas

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

North Little Rock AR Registered Nurse with Physician and PatientChoosing the right nursing program near North Little Rock AR may feel like a difficult undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and measure the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your home is most likely not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional things to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are available as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

North Little Rock AR Nurse taking blood pressure of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely North Little Rock AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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 Degree Options

North Little Rock Arkansas Registered 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 receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions 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 commonly a two year program made available by Arkansas community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish 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 normally a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Classes

North Little Rock AR student attending nursing school onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more preferred way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend classes for some North Little Rock AR students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, 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 obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Schools

Now that you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near North Little Rock AR or on the internet, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, 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 recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping verify that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Arkansas school licensing authority to check 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 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 substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the North Little Rock AR medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with North Little Rock AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right North Little Rock AR Nursing School

North Little Rock Arkansas RN holding patient chartChoosing the right nursing degree program is potentially the most crucial step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are various aspects that you must take into account when deciding on a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have stressed in this content, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community.  By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select 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.