How to Choose the Best Nursing Degree Program near Bakersfield CA
Locating the best nursing program near Bakersfield CA may seem like a difficult project, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your house is most likely not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are several crucial additional considerations to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are available together with what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Bakersfield CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring 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 more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options to choose from 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 earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Bakersfield California area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program made available by California community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally 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 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 generally a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the California board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Classes
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more favored way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many Bakersfield CA students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have decided on which nursing degree to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Bakersfield CA or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout California and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your selection 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping confirm that you receive a quality 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 requirements for registered nurses are different 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. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, get in touch with the California school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Bakersfield 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 colleges 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 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 confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Bakersfield CA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially 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 associations with Bakersfield CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Bakersfield CA Nursing Program
Selecting the right nursing program is potentially the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many variables that you must consider when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have emphasized in this article, it is important that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Bakersfield CA.