How to Choose an Accredited RN Degree Program near Bakersfield CA
Searching for the right nursing college near Bakersfield CA may feel like a complicated undertaking, especially if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and assess the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is closest to your house is no doubt not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of important additional aspects to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree options that are offered as well as what the functions of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Bakersfield CA hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing 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), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option offered 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 just two 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 generally a 2 year program offered by California community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish 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 commonly a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to check with the California board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more favored way to obtain instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend college for many Bakersfield CA students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Why Enter the Nursing Profession?Nurses are an indispensable component of a Bakersfield CA medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career opens doors to a number of opportunities, including healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, among the most significant are its practical and personal rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently go into the profession due to a passion to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This humanistic aspect of the medical profession, rather than the analytical or research related elements, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from an assortment of work environments, including home care facilities, physician's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, including addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses deliver direct patient care, others elect to be educators, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Bakersfield CA or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, 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 manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the field.
- 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. Aside from helping verify that you receive a premium education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain 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 prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for California or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, check with the California school licensing authority to check 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 programs 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 verify 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 obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Bakersfield CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Bakersfield CA Nursing Program
Selecting the right nursing program is arguably the most critical phase to beginning a new career in the medical care industry. There are numerous aspects that you should think about when picking a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed in this article, it is essential that you select 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 produce a short list 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 desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Bakersfield CA.