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Nursing School Degree Programs Pine Bluff Arkansas

How to Pick an Accredited RN Program near Pine Bluff AR

Pine Bluff AR Registered Nurse with Physician and PatientLocating the best nursing college near Pine Bluff AR may seem like a difficult project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least costly program or the one that is nearest to your house is no doubt not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are various crucial additional considerations to explore before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree alternatives that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Pine Bluff AR Nurse taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as Pine Bluff AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to help doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Instructing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

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

Nursing Degrees

Pine Bluff Arkansas Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees available 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 receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Pine Bluff Arkansas area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program made available by Arkansas community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at Arkansas colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous 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 two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Classes

Pine Bluff AR student attending nursing college onlineAttending nursing colleges online is growing into a more popular way to obtain training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating answer to finding the free time to attend classes for many Pine Bluff AR students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of 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 commitments have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Once you have selected which nursing program to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Pine Bluff AR or online, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Arkansas for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites 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. 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 attending not only provides 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 companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Arkansas school licensing authority to find out 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 opinions 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the Pine Bluff AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Pine Bluff AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best Pine Bluff AR Nursing Program

Pine Bluff Arkansas RN holding patient chartPicking the right nursing degree program is potentially the most important first step to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of variables that you must consider when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have emphasized within this post, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Pine Bluff AR.