How to Choose the Best Nursing Degree Program near Antioch CA
Locating the best nursing school near Antioch CA may seem like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their determination exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least costly college or the one that is local to your house is probably not the best way to select a nursing program. There are a number of key additional aspects to explore 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 healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Antioch CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to support 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 as well as where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing 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 example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
There are several degree options 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 continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Antioch California area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program made available by California community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish to progress 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 two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the California board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Programs
Enrolling in nursing schools online is growing into a more popular way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specific number 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 convenient answer to finding the time to attend college for many Antioch CA students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Antioch CA or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within 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 location of the school and the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the field.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping confirm that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered 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. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for California or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, contact the California school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Antioch 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 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 Antioch CA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with Antioch CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Antioch CA Nursing Program
Enrolling in the ideal nursing degree program is potentially the most critical first step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are various variables that you need to take into account when deciding on a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have highlighted in this post, it is essential that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Antioch CA.