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Nursing School Degree Programs Altadena California

How to Enroll In an Accredited Nursing School near Altadena CA

Altadena CA Registered Nurse with Doctor and PatientChoosing the right nursing college near Altadena CA may seem like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to search 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 essential that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your house is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are many crucial additional considerations to check out before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the roles of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Altadena CA Nurse taking blood pressure of woman

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely Altadena CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Keeping 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 normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

Altadena California Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There are several degree options offered 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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Altadena 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 job in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire 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 2 year program after attaining 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, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the California board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Degrees

Altadena CA student attending nursing school onlineEnrolling in nursing colleges online is growing into a more popular way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend school for some Altadena CA students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Schools

Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Altadena CA or on the web, you can use the following checklist to start 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 lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping ensure that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in California for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for California or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Additionally, get in touch with the California school licensing authority to check out 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 judgments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN colleges you are looking at 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 good reputation within the Altadena CA healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Check 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 RN School

Altadena California RN holding patient chartChoosing the ideal nursing college is potentially the most critical phase to starting a new career in the health care field. There are many factors that you must take into account when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out within this content, it is important that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Altadena CA.