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Nursing School Degree Programs Bakersfield California

How to Choose the Best Nursing Training Program near Bakersfield CA

Bakersfield CA Nurse with Doctor and PatientSearching for the right nursing college near Bakersfield CA may feel like a difficult endeavor, especially if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least expensive college or the one that is local to your residence is no doubt not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are various crucial additional factors to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first go over the nursing degree choices that are available as well as what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Bakersfield CA RN taking vital signs of patient

Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Bakersfield CA hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to support 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 in addition to where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Overseeing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing 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 high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for 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 common illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

Bakersfield California Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees available to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Bakersfield California area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by California community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards obtain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth 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 past 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 job market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

Once a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to check with the California board of nursing for any state requirements.

Online Nursing Programs

Bakersfield California student attending nursing college onlineAttending nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend college for many Bakersfield CA students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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. Therefore if your job and family commitments have left you with limited 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.

What to Ask Nursing Programs

Once you have decided on which nursing degree to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Bakersfield CA or online, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within California and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to see 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. Besides helping make sure that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in California for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ 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 performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an excellent education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, contact the California school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Bakersfield CA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts 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. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with Bakersfield CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Right Bakersfield CA Nursing School

Deciding on the right nursing program is perhaps the most crucial step to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are many variables that you should think about when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this content, it is essential that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community.  By using our list 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 hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Bakersfield CA.