How to Find the Best RN Program near Texarkana AR
Searching for the right nursing college near Texarkana AR may seem like a complicated project, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your house is undoubtedly not the best way to select a nursing program. There are many essential additional factors to explore before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the functions of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Texarkana AR hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to help 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 duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping 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 basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option to choose from 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 earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Texarkana Arkansas area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally 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 utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically 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 might 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 commonly a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After 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) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to contact the Arkansas board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more in demand way to obtain training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually 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 can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend college for some Texarkana AR students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family obligations 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 busy schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Texarkana AR or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final decision, 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 make sure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Also, get in touch with the Arkansas school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Texarkana 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 schools 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 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 Texarkana AR medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best 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. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Texarkana AR area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Texarkana AR RN School
Enrolling in the right nursing college is perhaps the most important step to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are various aspects that you need to think about when choosing a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized within this content, it is critical that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Texarkana AR.