How to Enroll In the Right RN Program near Alameda CA
Locating the best nursing college near Alameda CA may seem like a complex undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and measure the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least costly school or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are various important additional considerations to check into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree options that are available as well as what the functions of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Alameda CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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.
There are multiple degrees offered 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 obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Alameda California area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by California community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain 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 four year program offered at California 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 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 usually a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the California board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Classes
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more in demand way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend college for many Alameda CA students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more 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. So if your job and household commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Alameda CA or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within California 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 previously discussed, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other programs.
- 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. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a premium education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in California for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses are different 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. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for California or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, check with the California school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Alameda CA healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools 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 unhappy 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 superb reputation within the Alameda CA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Alameda CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Choose the Right Alameda CA RN Program
Deciding on the ideal nursing college is arguably the most critical phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous variables that you should think about when deciding on a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized within this content, it is essential that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Alameda CA.