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Nursing School Degree Programs Alhambra California

How to Choose the Best Nursing College near Alhambra CA

Alhambra CA Nurse with Physician and PatientChoosing the right nursing college near Alhambra CA may feel like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and measure the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is local to your house is no doubt not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are various essential additional considerations to check out before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the roles of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Alhambra CA Nurse taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Alhambra CA hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the functions 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
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

Alhambra California Nurse assisting surgeon

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 advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Alhambra California area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program offered by California community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 normally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

Once a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) 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 Schools

Alhambra CA student attending RN college onlineEnrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more favored way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend college for many Alhambra CA students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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. And so if your job and family responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Programs

Now that you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Alhambra CA or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout California and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares 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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in California 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the California school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Alhambra 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 Alhambra CA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with Alhambra CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Right Alhambra CA RN School

Alhambra California nurse holding medical chartChoosing the right nursing school is perhaps the most critical first step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many aspects that you need to consider when deciding on a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this article, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Alhambra CA.