How to Choose a Nursing School in Richland South Carolina
Locating the best nursing school near Richland SC may seem like a difficult undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their selection solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least costly program or the one that is closest to your residence is most likely not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are several important additional factors to explore before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, together with the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the Richland SC medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of 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 generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services in Richland SC, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a registered nurse in Richland SC. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by South Carolina community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at South Carolina 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 may desire 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 generally a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in Richland SC or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to contact the South Carolina board of nursing for any state mandates.
There are basically two scholastic accreditations offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN in Richland SC. The one that can be concluded in the shortest time frame, typically about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The next option is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and usually require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they furnish more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you pursue, it should be South Carolina approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the syllabus adequately 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 have to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Richland SC area. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from one to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of training directed and every state has its specific requirements. So it’s crucial to make certain that the program 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 check with the health or nursing board for South Carolina 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 can be other prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing programs online is emerging as a more favored way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree in South Carolina. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online in your Richland SC home, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend school for some students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nurse Colleges
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within South Carolina and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school relative to Richland SC along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the other programs.
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 recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping verify that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools near Richland SC.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the Richland SC area school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for South Carolina or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. In addition, contact the South Carolina school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some regional Richland SC 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Richland SC medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all Richland SC area nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with nearby hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Pick the Right RN School near Richland SC
Choosing the ideal registered nursing degree program is perhaps the most critical phase to starting a new career in the health care field. There are numerous factors that you need to consider when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, 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 both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Richland SC.
Why Did You Want to Be a Nurse?When prepping to interview for a nursing job, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask nursing candidates is "What made you select nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the private reasons you might have for being a registered nurse, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to nursing, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare some approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an excellent nurse and the ideal choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down several ideas and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
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