How to Enroll In an Accredited RN Course near Antioch CA
Locating the best nursing program near Antioch CA may feel like a challenging project, particularly 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 must receive the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least costly school or the one that is closest to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of key additional factors to look into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine 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 Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, including Antioch CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to help doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option 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 acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Antioch California area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program offered by California community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four 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 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When 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. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the California board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing schools online is growing into a more preferred way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend classes for some Antioch CA students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many 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 little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Antioch CA or online, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout California and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping verify that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in California for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Additionally, contact the California school licensing authority to check 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 assessments 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Antioch CA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with Antioch CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Antioch CA RN Program
Enrolling in the right nursing degree program is probably the most important phase to starting a new career in the medical care field. There are various factors that you should take into account when selecting a nursing college. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out within this post, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Antioch CA.