How to Choose a Nursing School in Tucson Arizona
Choosing the best nursing program in Tucson AZ may seem like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you don’t know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the nursing school. Selecting the least costly school or the one that is local to your house is no doubt not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are many key additional aspects to check into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let’s first go over what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system in Tucson AZ. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses in Tucson AZ with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master’s Degree and generally 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 Degrees Available
There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in Tucson AZ.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in Tucson AZ medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at Tucson AZ colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want 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 typically a 2 year program after achieving 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 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 fluctuate from state to state, so don’t forget to get in touch with the Tucson AZ board of nursing for any state mandates.
LVN and LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are basically two scholastic credentials offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be concluded in the shortest amount of time, generally about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma course. The other choice is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, along with offering a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you seek, it should be Tucson AZ approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the syllabus properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA instruction can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from 1 to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction required and that each state has its specific requirements. So it’s important to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to contact the health or nursing board for Tucson AZ to make certain that the training is state approved. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional requirements as well.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more popular way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local Tucson AZ healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend college for many students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like 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 training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nurse Courses
Now that you have determined which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Tucson AZ and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up 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. Aside from helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available for non-accredited schools in Tucson AZ.
- 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) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Arizona or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, check with the Arizona school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some nearby Tucson 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 schools 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Tucson AZ medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a Tucson AZ clinical setting. Virtually all Arizona nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with community hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right RN Program in Tucson AZ
Picking the right registered nursing program is perhaps the most critical step to starting a new career in the healthcare field. There are various variables that you should consider when deciding on a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this article, it is critical that you pick an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Tucson AZ.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Nurse?When preparing to interview for a nursing job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers typically ask nursing applicants is "What drove you to select nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a nurse, but also what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to nursing, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should prepare some ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you have that make you an exceptional nurse and the leading choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
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