How to Choose the Best RN College near Atascadero CA
Selecting the right nursing program near Atascadero CA may seem like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and measure the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least costly college or the one that is local to your house is no doubt not the best way to select a nursing program. There are several important additional considerations to look into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree alternatives that are available together with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including Atascadero CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly 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 Available
There are multiple degrees offered to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to achieve 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 two year program made available by California community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed 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 advance 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 receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, he or she 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 don't forget to get in touch with the California board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more favored way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many Atascadero CA students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household obligations have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Atascadero CA or on the web, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout California and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your pick compares 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. In addition to helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered 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) along with 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 attending not only provides an excellent education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies 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 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 schools you are considering 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Atascadero CA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain 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 too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Atascadero CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Atascadero CA Nursing School
Choosing the ideal nursing program is arguably the most critical step to starting a new career in the medical care field. There are various aspects that you need to consider when choosing a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this article, it is critical that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Atascadero CA.