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Nursing School Degree Programs Pine Bluff Arkansas

How to Pick the Best Nursing Course near Pine Bluff AR

Pine Bluff AR Nurse with Doctor and PatientSelecting the right nursing program near Pine Bluff AR may feel like a formidable project, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your residence is undoubtedly not the best way to select a nursing program. There are various important additional considerations to check out before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree alternatives that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Pine Bluff AR RN taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare 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 duty is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a higher 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 common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Pine Bluff Arkansas Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to obtain 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 normally a 2 year program made available by Arkansas community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is typically 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 desire to progress 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 two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

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

Nursing Online Programs

Pine Bluff AR woman attending nursing college onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is growing into a more favored way to receive training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend classes for many Pine Bluff AR students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and family commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Programs

Now that you have selected which nursing program to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Pine Bluff AR or online, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see 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 agency. Aside from helping confirm that you get a quality education, it may help 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 differ 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. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the Arkansas school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Pine Bluff AR healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN colleges 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Pine Bluff AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Pine Bluff AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Choose the Best Pine Bluff AR RN School

Pine Bluff Arkansas nurse holding patient chartPicking the right nursing school is arguably the most important phase to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are many aspects that you must think about when selecting a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have highlighted in this article, it is critical that you select 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 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 desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Pine Bluff AR.