How to Pick the Right Nursing College near Texarkana AR
Locating the best nursing school near Texarkana AR may feel like a formidable undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your house is most likely not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are several key additional things to look into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are available along with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Texarkana AR hospitals, private 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 particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher 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 provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
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 earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Texarkana Arkansas area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program offered by Arkansas community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a four 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 might wish 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 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.
Once 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 be sure to get in touch with the Arkansas board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend school for many Texarkana AR students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Why Choose Nursing as a Career?Nurses are an indispensable component of a Texarkana AR medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to many opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, the most meaningful are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a hospital or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often choose the profession due to a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This human side of the health profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related elements, is attractive to many who elect to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specialties, including addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While most nurses provide primary patient care, others choose to be educators, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Texarkana AR or online, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other schools.
- 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. Besides helping ensure 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 requirements for registered nurses vary 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 completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an outstanding education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Arkansas school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Texarkana 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 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Texarkana AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Texarkana AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Texarkana AR Nursing School
Picking the ideal nursing program is probably the most critical phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are various factors that you need to take into account when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have highlighted within this content, it is important that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list 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 ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Texarkana AR.