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Nursing School Degree Programs Bakersfield California

How to Find the Right Nursing School near Bakersfield CA

Bakersfield CA Registered Nurse with Physician and PatientLocating the right nursing college near Bakersfield CA may feel like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and measure the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence is most likely not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are several key additional aspects to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are available together with what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Bakersfield CA RN taking blood pressure of patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare 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 primary job is to help doctors in the treatment 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 portion of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically 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 RN assisting surgeon

There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief 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 commonly a 2 year program made available 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 employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire 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 typically a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has received 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. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the California board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Classes

Bakersfield CA student attending nursing school onlineAttending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more in demand way to get training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend school for some Bakersfield CA students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and household commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask Nursing Colleges

Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Bakersfield CA or online, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within California and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your selection compares 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in California for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to 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 imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, check with the California school licensing authority to determine 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 assessments 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable 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 most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Bakersfield CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Choose the Right Bakersfield CA Nursing School

Bakersfield California RN holding medical chartPicking the right nursing college is probably the most crucial step to launching a new career in the health care field. There are many variables that you need to consider when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have stressed in this content, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical 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 ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Bakersfield CA.