How to Pick an Accredited RN School near Bakersfield CA
Searching for the best nursing college near Bakersfield CA may seem like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least costly college or the one that is local to your residence is probably not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are many important additional considerations to explore before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are offered as well as what the functions of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as Bakersfield CA hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an 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
There are multiple degrees available 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 as little as 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Bakersfield California area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program offered by California community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies 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 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 normally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has attained 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. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the California board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Degrees
Attending nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend school for many Bakersfield CA students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. 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. And so if your work and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Bakersfield CA or online, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of 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 earlier mentioned, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection 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 agency. Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available 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) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many 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 delivers an excellent education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the California school licensing authority to determine 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 judgments 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 unhappy 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 favorable reputation within the Bakersfield CA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Bakersfield CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Bakersfield CA RN Program
Deciding on the ideal nursing school is probably the most important phase to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are a number of factors that you should consider when choosing a nursing program. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed within this post, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Bakersfield CA.