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Nursing School Degree Programs Pine Bluff Arkansas

How to Enroll In the Best RN College near Pine Bluff AR

Pine Bluff AR Nurse with Doctor and PatientSearching for the best nursing college near Pine Bluff AR may feel like a complicated endeavor, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your home is undoubtedly not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional considerations to check out before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Pine Bluff AR RN taking blood pressure of woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Pine Bluff AR hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to aid 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 portion of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing 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 accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly 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 Degrees

Pine Bluff Arkansas Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option available 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 obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Pine Bluff 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 centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified 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 usually a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Programs

Pine Bluff Arkansas student attending RN school onlineEnrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more favored way to obtain instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend college for many Pine Bluff AR students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, 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 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 Programs

Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Pine Bluff AR or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within 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 previously pointed out, the site of the school along with 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 prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the field.

  • 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, contact the Arkansas school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Pine Bluff 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 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Pine Bluff AR medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Pine Bluff AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Choose the Best Pine Bluff AR Nursing School

Deciding on the ideal nursing program is potentially the most important phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are various variables that you must think about when deciding on a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community.  By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist 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 drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Pine Bluff AR.