How to Select a Nursing Program in Ellwood City Pennsylvania
Locating the right nursing college near Ellwood City PA may seem like a challenging project, especially if you don’t know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many future students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least expensive college or the one that is local to your house is no doubt not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional factors to explore before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let’s first cover what the function of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the Ellwood City PA medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master’s Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services in Ellwood City PA, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a registered nurse in Ellwood City PA. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just 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.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by Pennsylvania 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 obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at Pennsylvania 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 employment 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 instance to become a nurse practitioner in Ellwood City PA or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has attained 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. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don’t forget to contact the Pennsylvania board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Certificates and Degrees
There are principally two scholastic credentials available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN in Ellwood City PA. The one that can be concluded in the shortest period of time, generally about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma program. The second option is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and normally require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you seek, it needs to be Pennsylvania approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the course of study adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of 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 Ellwood City PA area. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from one to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction mandated and that every state has its own prerequisites. So it’s important to make sure that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for Pennsylvania to make sure 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 can be other prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing programs online is becoming a more preferred way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree in Pennsylvania. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online in your Ellwood City PA home, this alternative may be a more accommodating answer to finding the free time to attend school for some students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask Nurse Schools
Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Pennsylvania and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school relative to Ellwood City PA along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see 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 organization. Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools near Ellwood City PA.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the Ellwood City PA area school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Pennsylvania or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, contact the Pennsylvania school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some nearby Ellwood City PA healthcare organizations you’re interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgements 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Ellwood City PA healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all Ellwood City PA area nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with regional hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right RN Course near Ellwood City PA
Deciding on the ideal registered nursing degree program is perhaps the most important first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of factors that you must consider when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have emphasized within this post, it is important that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Ellwood City PA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Registered Nurse?When preparing to interview for a nursing position, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. One of the things that interviewers typically ask nursing applicants is "What made you choose nursing as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the private reasons you may have for being a RN, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to nursing, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare some strategies about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an excellent nurse and the leading choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
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