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Nursing School Degree Programs Atascadero California

How to Select the Right RN Degree Program near Atascadero CA

Atascadero CA Nurse with Physician and PatientLocating the best nursing college 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 already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least costly program or the one that is nearest to your house is most likely not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are various important additional factors to check out before you determine where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are offered as well as what the functions of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Atascadero CA RN taking blood pressure of patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Atascadero CA hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular 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
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing 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 accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

Atascadero California Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees available 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 just two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short 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 usually a 2 year program offered by California community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire 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 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 acquired 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 fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the California board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Programs

Atascadero CA woman attending nursing classes onlineAttending nursing colleges online is becoming a more favored way to obtain training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical answer to finding the time to attend college for some Atascadero CA students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may 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 job and family commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Once you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Atascadero CA or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within California and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping confirm that you get an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided 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) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific 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 readies you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for California or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the California school licensing authority to check 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 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 confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Atascadero CA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Atascadero CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Atascadero CA Nursing Program

Atascadero California nurse holding patient chartEnrolling in the ideal nursing program is perhaps the most important phase to starting a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of aspects that you must consider when deciding on a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have emphasized within this post, it is essential that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Atascadero CA.