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Nursing School Degree Programs Atascadero California

How to Find an Accredited Nursing Training Program near Atascadero CA

Atascadero CA RN with Doctor and PatientSelecting the best nursing program near Atascadero CA may feel like a formidable endeavor, especially if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive program or the one that is local to your house is most likely not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of important additional aspects to check into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the roles of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Atascadero CA RN taking blood pressure of patient

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Atascadero CA hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Managing 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 deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Atascadero California Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There are several degree options offered 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 receive a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Atascadero 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 medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is usually 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 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 commonly a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Other 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 Programs

Atascadero CA student attending RN classes onlineEnrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more popular way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend classes for some Atascadero CA students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. 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 family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Once you have selected which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Atascadero CA or on the web, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout California and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other schools.

  • 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. Besides helping verify that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for California or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, get in touch with the California school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact 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 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Atascadero CA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to get 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 also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Atascadero CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best Atascadero CA RN School

Atascadero California nurse holding patient chartSelecting the right nursing college is probably the most critical phase to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various variables that you should think about when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out in this post, it is important that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Atascadero CA.