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Nursing School Degree Programs Atascadero California

How to Choose the Right Nursing College near Atascadero CA

Atascadero CA RN with Physician and PatientChoosing the best nursing college near Atascadero CA may seem like a complicated project, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is closest to your house is no doubt not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are a number of key additional considerations to check out before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree alternatives that are offered together with what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Atascadero CA RN taking vital signs of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Atascadero CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid 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 portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

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

Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly 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 Degree Options

Atascadero California RN assisting surgeon

There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Atascadero California area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically 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 employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want to advance 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 two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus 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) in order to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the California board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Degrees

Atascadero CA woman attending RN classes onlineAttending nursing colleges online is growing into a more in demand way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many Atascadero CA students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an essential component of a Atascadero CA medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, among the most meaningful are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with physicians. Nurses frequently choose the profession due to a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic conditions. This human side of the healthcare profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related aspects, is attractive to many who elect to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, including nursing homes, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses deliver primary patient care, others elect to be teachers, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Schools

what to ask Atascadero CA nursing degree collegesOnce you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Atascadero CA or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within California and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up 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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping confirm that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in California for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along 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 an excellent education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, contact the California school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Atascadero 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 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 superb reputation within the Atascadero CA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to acquire 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Atascadero CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Atascadero CA Nursing Program

Atascadero CA RN holding newbornDeciding on the right nursing program is arguably the most crucial step to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are many variables that you must take into account when deciding on a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Atascadero CA.