How to Pick a Nursing Program in West Mifflin Pennsylvania
Choosing the right nursing school near West Mifflin PA may seem like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you aren’t sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their determination exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your home is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are many key additional things to investigate before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let’s first cover what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the West Mifflin PA medical delivery system. RNs practice in many 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. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master’s Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services in West Mifflin PA, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees available to become a registered nurse in West Mifflin PA. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can receive 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 brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program made available by Pennsylvania community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at Pennsylvania colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 employment market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner in West Mifflin PA or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has obtained 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. 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 generally two academic accreditations available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN in West Mifflin PA. The one that may be completed in the shortest amount of time, typically about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma course. The second alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and commonly require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to offering a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you pursue, it should 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 effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the West Mifflin PA area. The length of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum amount of training directed and that each state has its specific requirements. So it’s important to make certain that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to contact the health or nursing board for Pennsylvania to make certain that the education is state approved. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Classes
Enrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to obtain training and acquire 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 specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online in your West Mifflin PA home, this method may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of 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 obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nurse Courses
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Pennsylvania and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school relative to West Mifflin PA and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the other schools.
Accreditation. It’s a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided for non-accredited schools near West Mifflin 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 imperative that the West Mifflin PA area school you are attending not only delivers a top-notch education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Pennsylvania or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Pennsylvania school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some local West Mifflin PA 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 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 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 confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the West Mifflin PA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain employment.
Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all West Mifflin PA area nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with community hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right RN Program near West Mifflin PA
Picking the right registered nursing school is perhaps the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various variables that you should think about when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this post, it is important that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in West Mifflin PA.
Why Did You Want to Become a Registered Nurse?When prepping to interview for a nursing position, it's a good idea to review questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask nursing applicants is "What drove you to select nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a RN, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to nursing, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you should prepare several ideas about how you want to answer them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding nurse and the leading choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
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