How to Pick the Right Nursing Degree Program Online in Phoenix Arizona
Choosing the right nursing school near Phoenix AZ may feel like a challenging project, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and measure the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many future students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your house is most likely not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are various key additional factors to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
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RN Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely Phoenix AZ hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option to choose from 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 acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Phoenix AZ area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program offered by Arizona community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at Arizona colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their previous 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 job market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has obtained 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 don't forget to get in touch with the Arizona board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Degrees
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more preferred way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend college for some Phoenix AZ students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even other 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 like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and family obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask RN Training Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Phoenix AZ or on the web, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Arizona and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other schools.
- 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 confirm that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Phoenix AZ for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses are different 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. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Arizona or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Arizona school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Phoenix 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 programs you are looking at 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 unhappy 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 superb reputation within the Phoenix AZ medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Phoenix AZ hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Select the Right Phoenix Nursing Degree Program
Selecting the ideal nursing school is perhaps the most crucial first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous factors that you must think about when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized within this post, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Phoenix Arizona.