How to Enroll In the Right Nursing Degree Program Online in Oro Valley Arizona
Searching for the right nursing program near Oro Valley AZ may feel like a challenging undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least costly college or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are various key additional aspects to check into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss what the function of a registered nurse is in our health system, along with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
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Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Oro Valley AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as 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
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver 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 registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Oro Valley AZ area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by Arizona community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Arizona colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past 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 employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to check with the Arizona board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Colleges
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more popular way to obtain training and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend college for some Oro Valley AZ students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. 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. So if your work and family obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Oro Valley AZ or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Arizona and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two things that you will look at. 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 recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Oro Valley AZ for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona 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 agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, get in touch with the Arizona school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Oro Valley AZ 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 displeased 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 Oro Valley AZ healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Pick the Right Oro Valley Nursing Program
Selecting the right nursing program is potentially the most critical first step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are numerous variables that you must consider when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have highlighted within this article, it is critical that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list 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 appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Oro Valley Arizona.