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Nursing School Degree Programs Altadena California

How to Enroll In an Accredited Nursing College near Altadena CA

Altadena CA Nurse with Doctor and PatientSelecting the best nursing school near Altadena CA may seem like a difficult project, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their determination exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are several crucial additional factors to check out before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Altadena CA RN taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Altadena CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Keeping health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

Altadena California Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees available 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 as little as two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Altadena California area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program offered by California community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish 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 normally a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When 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) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the California board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Schools

Altadena CA student attending RN classes onlineAttending nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend school for some Altadena CA students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily 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 work and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Schools

Once you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Altadena CA or online, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout California and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we already pointed out, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are most likely going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in California for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites 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. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for California or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, contact 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 programs 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 displeased 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 Altadena CA healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain 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 certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Altadena CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Best Altadena CA Nursing Program

Altadena California nurse holding medical chartDeciding on the right nursing school is arguably the most important first step to beginning a new career in the medical care industry. There are various variables that you should think about when picking a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed within this article, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional 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 appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Altadena CA.