How to Enroll In a Nursing Program in State College Pennsylvania
Selecting the best nursing college near State College PA may feel like a complex project, especially if you aren’t sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least costly program or the one that is closest to your home is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are several crucial additional factors to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore 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 options that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the State College PA healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for 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 State College PA, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options offered to become a registered nurse in State College PA. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program offered by Pennsylvania community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at Pennsylvania 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 may wish to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in State College PA or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When 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) so as to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Pennsylvania board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Courses
There are essentially two scholastic credentials offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN in State College PA. The one that may be completed in the shortest period of time, typically about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma program. The next option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and usually require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to offering 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 type of credential you seek, it should be Pennsylvania approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the syllabus effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA education can be received at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the State College PA area. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from just one to 3 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 need to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal period of training directed and that every state has its own prerequisites. So it’s necessary to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for Pennsylvania to make certain that the training course is state approved. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be additional prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more preferred way to receive training and attain a nursing degree in Pennsylvania. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online in your State College PA home, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more 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. And so if your work and household responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nurse Courses
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Pennsylvania and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the location of the school relative to State College PA as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate 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. Aside from helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools near State College PA.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary 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. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the State College PA area school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Pennsylvania or the state where you will be practicing.
Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, check with the Pennsylvania school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some local State College PA 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased 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 State College PA healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain employment.
Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all State College PA area nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with nearby hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Select the Right RN Degree near State College PA
Selecting the right registered nursing college is perhaps the most critical phase to beginning a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of factors that you should consider when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out in this content, it is important that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in State College PA.
Why Did You Want to Be a Nurse?When getting ready to interview for a nursing job, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers frequently ask nursing candidates is "What drove you to decide on nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for being a nurse, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to nursing, as well as a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should ready some ideas about how you would like to address them. Given that there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an exceptional nurse and the leading choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
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