How to Enroll In an Accredited Nursing College near Bakersfield CA
Choosing the best nursing college near Bakersfield CA may feel like a complex undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your home is undoubtedly not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are various essential additional factors to look into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are available together with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Bakersfield CA hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact 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:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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.
There are several degree options 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 earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Bakersfield 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 healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire to progress 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 normally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When 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) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the California board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Programs
Enrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more favored way to obtain instruction and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend classes for some Bakersfield CA students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and household obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Why Nursing?Nurses are an important part of a Bakersfield CA medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to many opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, the most significant are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many patients in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with physicians. Nurses commonly choose the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic ailments. This humanistic side of the healthcare profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related aspects, is appealing to many who choose to enter into a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a number of work environments, including nursing homes, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specialties, including substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While many nurses provide primary patient care, others opt to be teachers, policy consultants and pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Bakersfield CA or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within California and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the field.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered 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) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, check with the California school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact 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 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the Bakersfield CA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. 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 Right Bakersfield CA Nursing School
Enrolling in the right nursing college is arguably the most critical phase to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are a number of aspects that you must consider when choosing a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed within this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist 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 drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Bakersfield CA.