How to Choose an Accredited RN Program near Altadena CA
Searching for the best nursing college near Altadena CA may feel like a formidable undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least costly program or the one that is local to your residence is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of key additional things to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are offered as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Altadena CA hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level 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.
There is more than one degree option offered to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Altadena California area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by California community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually 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 might want 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 commonly a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the California board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more popular way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend college for some Altadena CA students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Why Choose Nursing as a Career?Nurses are an indispensable component of a Altadena CA medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, among the most meaningful are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a hospital or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses frequently go into the profession out of 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 aspect of the medical profession, rather than the research or analytical related aspects, is appealing to many who elect to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, such as home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specializations, including substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although most nurses deliver direct patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.
Things to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Altadena CA or on the internet, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within California and the United States. So it is necessary 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 and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other schools.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in California for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites 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) along with 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 delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, contact the California school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Altadena CA 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 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Altadena CA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Altadena CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Altadena CA Nursing School
Selecting the ideal nursing college is potentially the most critical step to starting a new career in the healthcare field. There are many factors that you should take into account when choosing a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this post, it is important that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using 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 dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Altadena CA.