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Nursing School Degree Programs North Little Rock Arkansas

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

North Little Rock AR Nurse with Doctor and PatientFinding the right nursing school near North Little Rock AR may feel like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your home is undoubtedly not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are many key additional aspects to check into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are available along with what the roles of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

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 a large number of different medical settings, namely North Little Rock AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to support 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 in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

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

Nursing Degree Options

North Little Rock Arkansas RN assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option 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 just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief 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 normally a 2 year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want 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 generally a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

After 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) to become licensed. Other 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 Classes

North Little Rock AR woman attending RN classes onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more favored way to obtain training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend school for some North Little Rock AR students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily 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. So if your work and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an important part of a North Little Rock AR medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, among the most notable are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly choose the profession out of a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic conditions. This human side of the healthcare profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related elements, is appealing to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work environments, such as home care facilities, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although most nurses deliver direct patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.

Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

what to ask North Little Rock AR nursing training collegesOnce you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near North Little Rock AR or online, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other schools.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping confirm that you receive a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with 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 enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, 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 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 favorable reputation within the North Little Rock AR medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check 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.

Choose the Best North Little Rock AR RN School

North Little Rock AR nurse holding newbornEnrolling in the right nursing college is probably the most critical first step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many factors that you need to take into account when choosing a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this post, it is essential that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in North Little Rock AR.