How to Select the Right Nursing Degree Program near Phoenix Arizona
Searching for the best nursing program near Phoenix AZ may seem like a complex project, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least expensive school or the one that is local to your home is no doubt not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are several crucial additional aspects to check into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
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RN Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, including Phoenix AZ hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing 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 complex 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 routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Offered
There are several degree options offered to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Phoenix AZ area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program offered by Arizona community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at Arizona 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 desire to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the job market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After 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) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Arizona board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing schools online is becoming a more preferred way to get training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend classes for many Phoenix AZ students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous 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 responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask RN Degree Programs
Once you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Phoenix AZ or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Arizona and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are probably going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Phoenix AZ for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ 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 specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only delivers an outstanding education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, check with the Arizona school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Phoenix AZ healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their opinions 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Phoenix AZ medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Phoenix AZ hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Select the Best Phoenix Nursing Program
Picking the ideal nursing degree program is potentially the most critical first step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous factors 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 economic situation. As we have pointed out in this article, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Phoenix Arizona.