How to Enroll In a Nursing College in Rockford Illinois
Locating the best nursing school near Rockford IL may seem like a complicated undertaking, especially if you don’t know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order 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 evaluate the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many future students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your house is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are a number of important additional considerations to investigate before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first go over what the function of a registered nurse is in our health system, as well as the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the Rockford IL healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, such as hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master’s Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services in Rockford IL, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a registered nurse in Rockford IL. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program made available by Illinois community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at Illinois colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their prior 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 commonly a two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in Rockford IL or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don’t forget to contact the Illinois board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are principally two academic credentials offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN in Rockford IL. The one that may be concluded in the shortest amount of time, generally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The next choice is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and normally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, it needs to be Illinois approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the syllabus effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA training can be obtained at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Rockford IL area. The length of the training can take anywhere from one to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which have to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction required and every state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s important to make sure that the program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for Illinois to make sure that the training course is state certified. As well as the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be other prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is becoming a more preferred way to get training and earn a nursing degree in Illinois. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online in your Rockford IL home, this option may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend classes for many students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. 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. Therefore if your work and family commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nurse Degree Programs
Now that you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or online, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Illinois and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school relative to Rockford IL as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, 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 as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools near Rockford IL.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required 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 performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s imperative that the Rockford IL area school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Illinois or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, check with the Illinois school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some local Rockford IL 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 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It’s also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Rockford IL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all Rockford IL area nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with community hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Select the Right RN Degree near Rockford IL
Choosing the ideal registered nursing program is arguably the most crucial first step to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of factors that you should think about when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have stressed in this article, it is essential that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to select 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 nurse in Rockford IL.
Why Did You Want to Become an RN?When getting ready to interview for a nursing position, it's advantageous to review questions you may be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask nursing applicants is "What compelled you to decide on nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a registered nurse, but additionally what qualities and abilities you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to nursing, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must prepare some approaches about how you want to answer them. Because there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an excellent nurse and the best choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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