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Nursing School Degree Programs Altadena California

How to Find the Right RN College near Altadena CA

Altadena CA RN with Doctor and PatientLocating the best nursing college near Altadena CA may seem like a difficult project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, 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 research and determine the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least expensive college or the one that is local to your residence is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are several key additional factors to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree choices that are available along with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Altadena CA Nurse taking vital signs of woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Altadena CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing 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), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and often 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

Altadena California Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees offered to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn 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 descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Altadena California area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program made available by California community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is typically a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has attained 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 can vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the California board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Classes

Altadena California woman attending nursing classes onlineAttending nursing schools online is becoming a more in demand way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend college for many Altadena CA students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Once you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Altadena CA or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout California and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly 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 before making your ultimate selection, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping ensure that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided 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) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many 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 provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for California or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, check with the California school licensing authority to find 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 opinions 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Altadena CA healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Altadena CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Choose the Best Altadena CA RN School

Picking the right nursing college is arguably the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are numerous factors that you should take into account when choosing a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted within this content, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Altadena CA.